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Cheque scammers at it again

|Written By Gail J. Cohen

The Law Society of British Columbia has posted a warning on its web site of another variation on the bad cheque scam that’s been plaguing the profession, particularly real estate practitioners.

In this case, the scamsters are using a fake Toronto-based law firm named Wagner Elliot LLP and a relatively sophisticated fraudulent web site to fool lawyers into believing it is a real law firm. The scamsters hope to trick you into paying out on a phony trust cheque, certified cheque or bank draft, says the LSBC.

Although Wagner Elliott LLP is used as the bogus site in this scam, the details — including the fake law firm used — may vary. Here’s generally how the scam works:
•    You are contacted by a new client who claims to live in another country (e.g. Japan) and wants you to act on a conveyance.
•    The client has used a B.C. realtor to make an offer to purchase with subjects on a residential property in B.C.
•    The realtor sends you the signed contract of purchase and sale.
•    The client tells you that they will have their Wagner Elliot LLP lawyer, based in Toronto, send you the funds.
•    You receive a well made but phony instrument for deposit into your trust account.
•    Soon after you deposit the funds into trust, the client contacts you to say that they aren’t removing the subjects and to please return the funds.
•    If you write a trust cheque before learning that the instrument was bad, you’ve been scammed.

As well, today in a post on the Avoid A Claim blog of Ontario’s practicePro, notes that a lawyer in California contacted him to say that he’s received an e-mail from that purports to come from lawyer named Marcus Davis at this same firm.

For lawyers in B.C., If you suspect a new client may be a scamster and you are looking for advice, contact LSBC practice adviser Barbara Buchanan at or 604.697.5816. In Ontario, if you have been targeted by this fraud, please forward any of the emails you have received to Most other law societies will also provide assistance if you think you’re being scammed.

  • Sharon
    Did anyone notice that if you Google the "address" of the fake law firm that it also brings you to a website where a 1 bedroom condo - at that address - is for sale for $21,500 in Toronto and they ask that "Deposit To Be Certified To 'Gowlings'"???

    This sends many red flags up for me...

    Here is the link:




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