Let me start by saying that whatever you think you know about cashier’s checks and certified checks being secure simply doesn’t apply any more. Some forged bank checks are so good that you cannot distinguish them from the real thing simply by looking at them. Please make sure that your staff, your colleagues, your clients and your friends understand this.
Dan Pinnington did a great blog post titled Keep your guard up: Bad checque scams targeting lawyers are getting more sophisticated after he and I talked yesterday. Please read his post. Consider forwarding the link to others.
A new wrinkle is the scammer calling other professionals (like real estate agents) to get the names of local lawyers and then using that person’s name when they contact the lawyer to give them more credibility. A referral from a local businessperson isn’t going to be a scammer, right? There are reports of this fraud expanding and that is why this is a good topic for a law firm client newsletter. A person who is trying to sell a house might hear from a foreigner who is going to move to the state and wants to buy the house. They send a large certified check as a deposit and then a few days later note that a tragedy has occurring preventing them from moving. They ask the person to return part of the deposit, keeping a nice portion for their trouble.
While we have typically seen these checks in the mid six figures, Dan notes that the amounts are becoming lower to make them seem less suspicious. Let’s face it. Stealing $50,000 ten times a year is a pretty good living for a thief.
Spread the word and be on guard.