According to the Canadian newspaper ‘The Star’, lawyers across North America have been targeted by a ‘sophisticated email scam’ and lost millions of dollars. However, the ‘sophisticated scam’ sounds very familiar and not very sophisticated at all:
“A fraudster posing as the debtor agrees to pay the debt and sends the lawyer a counterfeit settlement cheque, which yet another fraudster (posing as a bank employee) verifies as authentic via telephone. The lawyer then cashes the cheque, takes a cut in fees for the services and wires the remaining funds to the client’s overseas account. By the time they realize the cheque is fake, the money is gone. ”
We have heard it all before, but is it just me or is there something missing? The way a cheque payment normally works is that the cheque has to clear before the bank pays out. And the cheque only clears when the issuing bank confirms the funds. So, unless the receiving bank is themselves defrauded – by a fake ‘issuing’ bank ‘ , how can the cheque clear without the money being confirmed in the lawyer’s trust account? It just makes no sense.