SALT LAKE CITY – The FBI Salt Lake City Division is warning attorneys to be suspicious of e-mails that are sent from foreign countries and promise opportunities to make easy money. “Con artists are attempting to hire attorneys over the Internet to supposedly resolve a financial dispute or act as a go-between. But attorneys need to know that it may be nothing more than a set-up that could leave them out a significant amount of money,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James McTighe.
How the scam works:
An attorney is hired via e-mail. Within a short time, the situation is resolved and the attorney receives a settlement check. The attorney keeps their portion and forwards the remaining amount to the client who hired them. Within about 10 days, the settlement check is returned by the bank because it’s fake. The attorney must repay the bank the full amount, but the “client” can’t be located.
The FBI Salt Lake City Division has been made aware of at least four attorneys in Utah, Idaho, and Montana who have fallen victim to this scam. A number of others report receiving these types of e-mails.
This scam is similar to other e-mail frauds that dupe consumers into unwittingly cashing a phony check and wiring part of the money to an individual overseas. SAC McTighe says, as with other e-mail scams, there are a few red flags to look out for: “The grammar is poor, the e-mails are usually sent by someone who claims to be living in another country, and the ruse can involve anything from divorce to debt collection.”
Samples of scam e-mails received by attorneys and forwarded to the FBI:
- Dear Attorney
- “…i would like you to assist me in collecting the money …”
- “I am hereby seeking your firm’s assistance in collecting the balance from him.”