OBLIC policyholders are informing us that they continue to receive scam email requests from foreign entities or individuals to assist these potential “clients” in collecting a debt. The scam usually requires the attorney to receive or accept a “check” from a corporation or individual, deposit the “check” in the attorney’s own bank account, deduct the attorney’s fee and send a check from the attorney’s account to the “client” or a third party.
The problem is that it is all part of a scam. The “check” is most often fraudulent and when it is returned to the attorney’s bank as uncollectable, the bank then seeks to recoup all advanced funds from the attorney’s account and to hold the attorney personally liable for any deficit. Ethics issues can also arise if there were other client funds in the attorney’s IOLTA account lost due to the fraudulent “check.”
The scams have involved textile mills, manufacturers of hardware items, child support payments and other areas. Going online and looking at the entity’s website can be deceiving. The websites look legitimate, but further verification reveals more questions than answers. Policyholders should also be aware that a charge-back by a bank to the attorney or law firm is NOT considered a covered claim if no actual clients incur a loss.
If you have ANY QUESTIONS about an email or other solicitation from a potential “client,” please do not hesitate to contact OBLIC. We are here to help!