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Beware of Clients Trying to Scam Your Firm

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 17, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In this business, your professional reputation is your biggest asset. This rings especially true for small firms and solo practitioners who rely heavily on word of mouth.

The thing is that there's always going to be that one client who calls your reputation into question--your services are somehow a scam. However, you can usually attribute this to a disappointing outcome (or a little crazy).

But what if there really is a scam? And you're also one of its victims?

One Texas lawyer was just that--a victim of a client's scam. A local (and legitimate) real estate agent received an e-mail from London explaining that a British doctor was moving to Houston. She enlisted the help of a local firm in completing paperwork.

When the paperwork was done, the doctor sent $500,000, which according to the ABA Journal was more than the house was worth. Luckily, before the firm could refund any of the money, its bank contacted the lawyer explaining that the check was a fake.

Transferring fraudulent funds would have been a big reputational hit.

Unfortunately, lawyers have also been seeing an increased instance of name-napping, reports the ABA Journal. One fraudster sent out fake checks asking recipients to transfer some of the funds. The accompany letter listed a law firm as the sender. Even worse, the magazine reports that another law firm received dozens of calls after someone posing as their representative tried to collect non-existent or already paid debts.

Lawyers are clearly no longer just the alleged scammers, but are now the scamees. So what should you do if you think you've been the victim of a scam? Document, document, document. Then report it to the state bar to ward off any wrongful ethical violations. Those will really ruin your reputation.

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