The FBI has issued a statement warning U.S. law firms to be on the lookout for counterfeit check schemes.
According to the FBI, “the schemers send e-mails claiming to be overseas and seeking legal representation to collect debts from a third party in the U.S. The firm then receives a retainer agreement, invoices reflecting the amount owed, and a check payable to the firm.
“The firm is instructed to extract the retainer fee, including any other fees associated with the transaction, and wire the remaining funds to banks in Korea, China, Ireland, or Canada. By the time the check is determined to be counterfeit, the funds have already been wired overseas.”
In the latest version of the scam, “the fraudulent client is an ex-wife ‘on assignment’ in an Asian country and claims to be pursuing a collection of divorce settlement monies from her ex-husband in the U.S.”
After agreeing to represent the ex-wife, the firm sends an e-mail to the ex-husband and then receives a “certified” check for the settlement via delivery service.
“The ex-wife instructs the firm to wire the funds, less the retainer fee, to an overseas bank account. When the scam is executed successfully, the law firm wires the money before discovering the check is counterfeit.”
The FBI warns all Internet users to use caution when receiving unsolicited e-mails.