November 3, 2010

Attorney Email/Check Scam

Recently, we have been made aware of a fraud scheme directly targeting attorneys. Here’s how the scheme works:

Usually the fraudster approaches an attorney via e-mail requesting assistance with a settlement involving a third party. It may be a labor dispute, injury claim, divorce or other type of settlement. The requestor may seem to have legitimate credentials, but in reality it is an elaborate social engineering scheme to gain your trust and cause you severe financial loss.

The fraudster will usually send a large (six figure) counterfeit cashier’s check for the settlement. The attorney is to deposit the check, deduct the retainer and forward the funds via wire transfer to a foreign country. The cashier’s check is ultimately returned unpaid and debited from the attorney’s IOLTA account (or general account in some cases), causing substantial loss.

 Please use extreme caution when accepting large cashier’s checks involved in this type of scenario. Contact your branch for assistance in verifying these items. The item may be held up to seven days pending verification.

If you have been a victim of this type of scheme, report the activity to the Attorney General for your state. If you have any questions, please call our Fraud Investigation Department at 253-471-4081.


See all Fraud Alert Notices.