Cheque scammers at it again

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 bbuchanan@lsbc.org or 604.697.5816. In Ontario, if you have been targeted by this fraud, please forward any of the emails you have received to fraudinfo@lawpro.ca. Most other law societies will also provide assistance if you think you’re being scammed.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE weekly newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered every two weeks, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please complete the form below to receive the weekly Canadian Legal Newswire and/or the Canadian Inhouse Legal Newswire.

Recent articles & video

TrustLaw, Nextlaw team up in pro-bono boost

Gowling WLG says Brexit is informing large firms’ HQ choices

Major law firms pledge U$5 million for industry diversity

Ashurst hails "game changer hire" for project finance team

Beverley McLachlin bio provides insights into remarkable life and career

Supreme Court of Canada set to hear appeals in Winnipeg

Most Read Articles

California now has toughest law in U.S. for the collection of personal information

Supreme Court of Canada set to hear appeals in Winnipeg

Beverley McLachlin bio provides insights into remarkable life and career

Digital privacy evolves in class actions