It seems that even ‘those who should know better’ are fair game when it comes to the ubiquitous email scam – lawyers are being targeted for particularly high stakes, on-off counterfeit check scams, solicited via email. The California Bar Journal has provided a nice graphic to show how the scam works.
In a recent example, an unnamed and presumably embarrassed lawyer in California came within a gnats whisker of losing $200,000 when he wired $183,000 to a Hong Kong bank account after receiving a check that his bank
â€œI feel stupid now that I wire transferred the money before confirming that the check was good,â€ says the San Francisco attorney, who quickly transferred the client trust account funds because the client said he needed them urgently to pay off a supplier. â€œIâ€™ve learned to be very careful when Iâ€™m contacted by e-mail by potential clientsâ€.
What sets this apart from the simple check scams commonly seen is that the scammers used knowledge of the banking clearing system to their advantage, changing the routing numbers on the check to cause enough confusion for the scam to complete before it was found out. Banks will commonly ‘help out’ trusted lawyers, even advancing large sums of money before checks have had time to clear.Â It seems to me some innovation needs to occur in the clearing process worldwide before this type of scam is combated.
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