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Even Lawyers Can Be Scammed

January 27, 2009

I have this handy ABA application on my iPhone, which provides legal news as well as entertaining stories about the legal profession.  Last night I read a story about an attorney who had been the recent victim of a variation on the Nigerian scam.  Actually, I get these emails all the time, but I just delete them because they, of course, sound too good to be true.

The emails always appear to be from a legitimate business seeking to collect money owed by a U.S. company.  I have never gone so far as to check the existence of the U.S. companies, but the attorney featured in the ABA article did.  The attorney found both a website for the “client” and websites for the debtor companies.  Satisfied that the offer was legitimate, the attorney agreed to try to collect $3.6 million.  The attorney received a $367,500 check, which should have been the first sign that something was not right.  People just don’t pay up!  Okay, back to the scam.  Once the check cleared, the attorney sent $182,500 to the “client” in Hong Kong.  Unfortunately, the check bounced and the attorney, who has called himself “a capital D Dumbass,” had to take out a home equity loan to repay his firm for the $182,500 loss.

The attorney’s firm has sued Citibank because the check appeared to be a “Citibank Official Check” and was actually verified by a Citibank employee.

Apparently other attorneys have become victims of similar scams.  Sometimes the companies identified in the emails are legitimate companies, but have no connection to the emails.  I know it may be tempting to take the risk, especially if you are a young attorney trying to make it on your own, but please be careful.  Always remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 30, 2009 4:15 am

    Actually, not only do I get these Nigerian e-mails on a daily basis I also get the same solicitations from people reportedly from other countries as well. It is amazing how many lawyers fall for this Nigerian scam.

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