Per the FBI, the scam works like this: a prospective client from overseas sends the firm an email, seeking representation in a civil matter, such as a divorce. The client then sends the firm a cashier’s check for a retainer in an amount far greater than industry standards. When the law firm tells the client he or she has overpaid, the client then requests a wire transfer refund to a foreign account. After the refund is sent, the firms find out the retainer check was bogus.
In the current cases in Hawaii, scammers are asking that wire transfers be sent to accounts in South Korea, Taiwan, and Canada.
“Law firms and other professional service providers are cautioned to be on high alert when dealing with clients who come forth via the Internet,” the FBI warns.
Also, when dealing with wire transfers, firms should be sure the initial payment has fully cleared before issuing refunds.