I reported in an earlier post that internet grifters have devised a special scheme directed at attorneys.
A lawyer recently told me that she almost was a victim. Another warning is in order.
There are two variations of this sting.
Here is the first:
- Lawyer Jones receives an unsolicited e-mail from Peter Wong of the Hong Kong Wiring Company of China. Hong Kong Wiring is owed $470,000 in unpaid bills for wiring sold to Albany Tool Company in Albany, New York, and the wiring company seeks a New York attorney to collect on the debt.
- Lawyer Jones falls for the bait and offers his employment at one third contingency. Hong Kong agrees. The agreement is done by e-mail.
- Lawyer Jones immediately contacts Albany. He contacts Albany based upon the documentation and information provided by Hong Kong.
- To his great surprise, Albany agrees to make an initial payment of $300,000 by the end of the week. Albany agrees to send a cashier’s check by Friday. The remaining $170,000 of the debt will be paid in two weeks.
- Lawyer Jones is very happy because he has expended little effort in earning a $100,000 fee. He actually feels a little guilty about earning so much so quickly and with so little work. He has not even filed a lawsuit. Furthermore, he will collect one third of the remaining $170,000.
- Hong Kong Wiring is very happy, and promises to make him its USA counsel as well as introduce him to other Chinese manufacturers doing business in America.
- On Friday, Lawyer Jones receives the cashier’s check from Albany Tool It is a Citibank cashier’s check. He immediately deposits the check into his client’s trust account at Chase Bank.
- In the meantime, the client was told the good news. The client provides information for the immediate wire transfer of the funds. Lawyer Jones will take $100,000 as his fee, and $200,000 will be wired to Hong Kong Wiring’s bank in China. On Friday, the day that he deposits the Citibank check, Lawyer Jones wires $200,000 to China.
- On the following Friday Lawyer Jones’s bank tells him that the Citibank cashier’s check was phony, and the entire $300,000 is being charged back to Jones’s account.
- Jones has been swindled! There is no Hong Kong Wiring. There is no Albany Tool Company. The people that Jones talked to are members of the gang. They might not have been in China, and they had calls and e-mails forwarded. The only thing that is real is the $200,000 that was lost in the wire transfer to a very real offshore account in China.
Here is the second variation:
- Lawyer Hopkins gets an unsolicited e-mail from a wife who seeks to enforce a judgment of alimony against her rich husband. The judgment is for $270.000. A New York attorney is needed because the wife lives in Mexico, and the husband lives in New York.
- Repeat steps 2 to 10 as set forth above.
I receive these unsolicited e-mails daily. Some attorneys must be falling for the trick or else the crooks would seek other game.
I was recently contacted by an attorney who read our prior post:
Mark, I just wanted to thank you for the article regarding the Citibank cashier’s check scam targeting attorneys. I am sitting here with one for $240,000. I couldn’t even get Citibank to confirm the scam.
You confirmed my suspicions. Thanks.
Fortunately, this attorney was suspicious, and she stopped short of depositing the counterfeit check. Other attorneys have not been as fortunate.
Mark E. Seitelman, 3/5/10, www.seitelman.com.