For years, organizations have warned individual consumers to watch for counterfeit check scams. Now, these scams also are targeting attorneys.
The Attorney General’s Office has received reports from Ohio attorneys who say they are contacted by “clients” who attempt to pay them with counterfeit checks and ask them to send back some of the money.
In Northwest Ohio, a private attorney was hired by a client to collect $250,000 from a debtor. The attorney contacted the debtor and negotiated a $150,000 settlement on the account.
After the settlement was reached, the debtor sent the attorney a check, and the attorney deposited the check to his business account, with the intention of withdrawing his cut and sending the rest of the money to his client. Before sending the money, however, he asked the bank if the check had cleared. The bank discovered that the check was fraudulent, and the attorney realized that the “client” and the “debtor” had been working together to defraud him.
In some cases, scammers send the attorney a “retainer fee” in the form of a counterfeit check. The scammer asks the attorney to deposit the check and wire transfer a portion of the funds back to the scammer.
Attorneys and consumers alike should beware of individuals who ask them to deposit a check and then send money via wire transfer. If you suspect a scam, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/ReportaScam.