US Attorney Carmen Ortiz has issued the following alert regarding an Attorney
"It has come to my attention that several law firms in Massachusetts and
elsewhere in the United States have been victimized by various sophisticated
attorney collections scams. In the interest of preventing the further
victimization of lawyers and law firms in Massachusetts, I am writing to request
that organizations [BBA, MBA and WBA] notify their members regarding the
potential for fraud in connection with collections cases.
While the details of the scams vary, there are several common elements.
Generally, a lawyer or law firm is contacted via email by a potential client
from another country seeking assistance with a debt collection matter or real
estate transaction for which the client must retain a local attorney. Often the
scam emails appear to come from legitimate American attorneys on behalf of the
foreign client, and generally both the client and debtor use the names of real
companies or individuals.
Shortly after the law firm is retained, either the purported client or the
purported debtor will notify the attorney that all or part of the debt is
undisputed and that the debtor will repay some or all of the debt directly to
the law firm. Shortly thereafter, the law firm receives a check – which in fact
is counterfeit. The counterfeit checks, which in most cases appear to be
cashiers' or other official checks, look legitimate to the naked eye and in some
instances even financial institutions have failed to identify the checks as
counterfeit. A verification phone number printed on the counterfeit checks leads
back to the fraudsters; in many cases victim law firms have used that phone
number to "verify" the counterfeit checks. After the law firm deposits the
check, the purported client instructs the lawyer to wire the funds, less the
attorney's fee, to the client. Commonly, the checks "clear" initial processing
through the law firm's banks and are only discovered to be counterfeit when they
are rejected by the institution on which they are drawn. By the time the law
firm and financial institutions realize that the checks are counterfeit, the law
firm has already wired funds to the putative client and those sums are
Contact Assistant United State Attorney Kristina E. Barclay at (617) 748-3371
should you have any questions."