State Bar of Texas Blog

Scams Continue to Target Texas Attorneys

Update 6/4/14. We received a report this week about a sophisticated scam involving collection with a fraudulent certified check that has affected at least three Texas attorneys. Read the details here. 


10/18/13. We received a report today that the name of a San Antonio law firm is being used in a debt collection scam, where scammers apparently obtained files from a payday loan company. The scammers are calling people all over the country, saying they are with the law firm, and threatening the people with arrest if they do not immediately pay their debts. Law enforcement and the Secret Service in San Antonio are investigating the matter. 


9/17/13

Texas attorneys should be extra-vigilant regarding potential scams involving fraudulent checks or wire transfers. These scams are increasing in sophistication, sometimes involving innocent third parties who seek legal services at the request of a scam artist.

The bottom line is this: Never issue a check from a trust account until deposited funds have been collected.

Scam scenarios include:

  • a request for help in collecting a divorce settlement from an ex-spouse
  • unsolicited email requests for legal help collecting money or judgments, sometimes apparently coming from actual professionals whose identities have been stolen
  • a real estate transaction for an overseas client (whose identity was stolen by a scam artist) involving an innocent third-party realtor
  • impersonation of law firms by scam artists who issue bogus checks and attempt to charge a fee for the checks to clear
  • a bogus check received by a law firm, purportedly for payment regarding representation of an inmate
  • impersonation of a lawyer and law firm by a scammer "collecting debts" under the attorney's name


Again, be vigilant and do not disburse funds from your accounts until underlying funds have cleared your bank (and not simply been made “available”).

Cases involving bank fraud are investigated by the Secret Service. If you are targeted, contact an office in your area. Internet fraud should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If a scam has targeted you or your firm, please leave a comment below describing the scenario or tactics the scammer used.

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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
kansas city business litigation attorney - October 1, 2013 4:30 AM

I too everyday received some 3-4 mails just as Rhonda, but the difference was that there were no grammatical, syntax, or spelling error as such but the subject line was a little suspicious so I didn’t open them, and might be losing some important mails too as I might be judging the “Subject” wrong too. I am not sure what to do now, as for now I have asked my clients to give me a ring after sending a mail but its not practical way of security.

Adam Kielich - September 25, 2013 8:41 AM

I've also received several of these. There seems to be a widespread scam involving family law situations where one spouse or parent lives in Korea and wants to do some kind of wire transfer fraud.

Debra L. Bruce - September 20, 2013 7:22 AM

I regularly get scam emails. I know they are scams because I don't practice law anymore, and our website clearly indicates that my business is coaching lawyers. One common tip off is the language "in your jurisdiction." I have yet to receive one that says "in Texas."

Here are some sad stories of lawyers who have gotten burned even though they tried to make sure the check was good. http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/law_trends_news_practice_area_e_newsletter_home/10_fall_pm_feat1.html

Judson Waltman - September 19, 2013 2:04 PM

My firm, the Lanier Law Firm, has been the target of the last bullet point scam whereby someone claims to be us or working with us in collecting a pay day loan or some other type of loan. Be on the watch for these. If anyone has any suggestions for how to deal with this situation, I would be glad to hear them.

Evan Guthrie - September 18, 2013 3:09 PM

Some of these emails are very good at looking like legitimate clients in need of a lawyer. Good info on what to look for.

Rhonda Smiley - September 18, 2013 11:08 AM

I have received multiple scam emails in the last several months. I never open them. I delete them so cannot share the source. The subject line usually has some grammatical, syntax, or spelling error to tip me off. The gist is always that they are seeking legal counsel. I know I could be missing some potentially valid legal business but the odds are small and the risk is great. If they are serious and found my email address, they also can find my phone number. Or email again. They never email again.

James Carroll - September 18, 2013 7:40 AM

I received an email from someone who wasn't Legacy Mortgage in Hawaii. This email was sent through the TX Bar email system. Have confirmed that it is not the Legacy company in Hawaii.

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