Warning on international scams targeting Law Practices

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Please be aware of international scams  targeting local legal practitioners.

In the most recent instance a local firm has been approached to represent a Chinese based company in respect of the sale of a dredger valued at US$2,900,000. The request was made via the law practice’s website.

An internet search of the seller indicates an apparently legitimate Chinese based company established in 1990.  A similar search for the buyer will indicate a legitimate Australian based company with National offices. As part of the scam websites for the companies concerned also appear to be established. A basic internet search does not raise any concerns as registered offices are correctly stated or appear to be correct.

After agreeing to act the legal practice is often provided with a retainer agreement and is then provided with a forged bank cheque to be deposited to the trust account. Soon after the cheque is received, generally by UPS or some other international courier company, a request is made for partial release of funds, normally by way of bank transfer and often to an international bank.

The warning signs

  • no face to face meeting with the clients
  • no advance payments will be received by the solicitor from the client
  • communications will be via email and the email address may be via free web mail accounts

What to do

  • ask where they found the law practice
  • obtain a signed costs agreement
  • obtain funds to be held in trust
  • contact the other party involved via telephone, from white pages listing not an internet search
  • if a cheque is received do not release any portion of the funds until your bank confirms clearance
  • contact the trust account inspectors general@lpbwa.com at the Legal Practice Board, who may already be aware of the scam

Warning on international scams targeting Law Practices

Please be aware of international scams  targeting local legal practitioners.

In the most recent instance a local firm has been approached to represent a Chinese based company in respect of the sale of a dredger valued at US$2,900,000. The request was made via the law practice’s website.

An internet search of the seller indicates an apparently legitimate Chinese based company established in 1990.  A similar search for the buyer will indicate a legitimate Australian based company with National offices. As part of the scam websites for the companies concerned also appear to be established. A basic internet search does not raise any concerns as registered offices are correctly stated or appear to be correct.

After agreeing to act the legal practice is often provided with a retainer agreement and is then provided with a forged bank cheque to be deposited to the trust account. Soon after the cheque is received, generally by UPS or some other international courier company, a request is made for partial release of funds, normally by way of bank transfer and often to an international bank.

The warning signs

  • no face to face meeting with the clients
  • no advance payments will be received by the solicitor from the client
  • communications will be via email and the email address may be via free web mail accounts

What to do

  • ask where they found the law practice
  • obtain a signed costs agreement
  • obtain funds to be held in trust
  • contact the other party involved via telephone, from white pages listing not an internet search
  • if a cheque is received do not release any portion of the funds until your bank confirms clearance
  • contact the trust account inspectors general@lpbwa.com at the Legal Practice Board, who may already be aware of the scam