In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Michael Caine and Steve Martin play con artists who team up to induce the wealthy and gullible to part with their fortunes. As this clip demonstrates, their methods, though not overly sophisticated, were often quite effective.
It’s not so funny, though, when you are victimized by a real dirty rotten scoundrel. And these days, there is no shortage of scams targeting lawyers. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of lawyers who fall prey to these scams.
While most everyone by now is pretty hip to the emails from the benevolent Nigerian prince offering to share his vast inheritance, or Lord Black, the English barrister desperately in need of assistance filing a bail application, some of the scams are less obvious. One tried and true scam is the email from a foreign CEO who seeks a lawyer to assist with debt collection or a transaction. After a brief communication, the lawyer is informed that the adverse party has sent a settlement check. The unsuspecting lawyer then deposits the money and wires the proceeds to his “client,” only to later discover that the check was phony. Of course, his firm’s money that he just wired out is not.
How do you spot one of these scams? Here are some red flags that will tell you whether an unsolicited email is a phony:
*They come from what purport to be foreign companies (or individuals) seeking an attorney in the United States;
*The names of the companies and individuals are legit — but the emails are sent from a gmail, yahoo or similar domain;
*The emails identify no referral source;
*They grammar be bad;
*They promise lots of money for little work.
If you receive one of these email, it’s best to just delete it. Your time is better spent eating apple sauce with a corked fork.