Via Texas Lawyer, the story of a lawyer who fell for an email scheme:
Houston lawyer Richard T. Howell Jr., whose firm was scammed out of $182,500 by a client who contacted and hired him through e-mail, says he is talking publicly about the situation so he can prevent other Texas lawyers from making the same mistakes.
“I’m a capital ‘D’ Dumbass,” says Howell, who has practiced law for 23 years and is a partner in Buckley, White, Castaneda & Howell.
In October 2008, Howell became the victim of a sophisticated, international version of a classic check-fraud scam…
Because he is responsible, Howell says, he did not ask his partners to help him cover the loss, which stemmed from collections work Howell did for a client who said he was a businessman in Japan. To reimburse his firm, Howell says, he had to borrow money on a home equity loan.
Howell’s firm sued Citibank… alleging the New York bank was negligent and engaged in negligent misrepresentation when it represented to Howell that a $367,000 check — that was supposed to be a payment to Howell’s client from a customer — had cleared when, in fact, it was a bogus check….
Howell says that with a 33.3 percent fee, the prospect of collecting $3.6 million in unpaid invoices for the client was a big lure. “To me, it sounded like it could be a potentially lucrative client from Japan,” Howell says.
“Sounded like?” Is that how lawyers are supposed to operate? If it sounded good, then it’s okay? Hey Howell, I’m a Nigerian prince. Please keep an eye out for my email.