Business Litigation Alert - "Fraud Alert: Even Lawyers Get Scammed"

Law Firms Lose Millions in Wire Transfer Scheme

Unfortunately, it has become all too easy for companies and individuals to become the victims of fraud, and law firms are not immune from this risk. 

Recently, several news articles reported on the arrest of a Texas man who allegedly targeted lawyers and law firms to defraud.  According to published reports, the man was able to steal at least $8.8 million before ultimately being arrested.

According to the published reports, Perry Don Cortese purportedly incorporated shell companies, opened bank accounts for the fake companies, and then contacted lawyers and law firms seeking legal representation.    

Cortese allegedly forged cashier’s checks payable to the lawyers and firms, telling the firms that the matters had settled and the checks were the supposed proceeds of the legal settlements and transactional conclusions.  After depositing the cashier's checks into their legal trust accounts, attorneys were instructed to send all or part of the funds into the shell companies' bank accounts.

While there may be a little bit of schadenfreude in seeing a lawyer or law firm get duped, every business and individual is a potential victim of a scam like this.  Taking steps to proactively protect yourself and your business from being swindled is essential:

1.       Know who you’re working with.  Before entering into any kind of working relationship with a company or individual, do your homework.  If you find any red flags, make sure the risk is worth the reward.

2.       Where is the money going? Before transferring any funds, be sure the transaction and the recipient are legitimate.  Many times people become complacent and are not diligent in triple checking where funds are being transferred.  This case highlights the importance of due diligence in transferring any funds.

3.       Put protections in place.  Law firms can be a prime target for hackers as their systems contain incredibly sensitive data.  Make sure you have the technology in place to protect your information and keep the hackers out.

Guard yourself and your business today by putting protections in place.  Make sure all employees understand the importance of due diligence when entering into new business relationships or any financial transactions.

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