New scam email targeting attorneys

On May 20, the State Bar received a call and an email from an attorney in McKinney about a scam email that he received on May 18. He also reported that there are posts from lawyers in California and Florida stating they have received identical inquiries and attachments.

The full scam email and attachments are below:

Thank you for your prompt response. Am living in Japan and Tomio Walton (ex-husband) lives in McKinney, Texas. Due to the time difference (+13hrs EST) it is a little bit difficult to determine the best time to call you. Following our divorce, we agreed under a negotiated settlement agreement which is incorporated, merged into and made part of the court decree for a onetime cash settlement of $557,000.00 USD for Family support (this includes child support, alimony and medical support). To his credit, he has paid me $208,000.00 USD from a total of $557,000.00 but still owing $349.000.00 USD and the due time for completion of payment is over. Thus, I request your legal counsel and representation to enforce the final judgment thereby compelling him to remit the balance owed to me. He is aware of my intention to seek legal actions. Attached is a copy of the separation agreement, and Final Judgment and I will be pleased to provide further information on this case on request. I desire to retain your law firm, please forward your firm's retainer fee agreement so that we can proceed. Thank you and have a pleasant day.

Regards, 

Rina Walton

Address: Fukuoka Sanwa Bldg. 3F, 3-19-21 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka 810-0001

Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Attachment 3

Attorneys should be extra-vigilant for scams of this type. For detailed information on scams targeting attorneys, see this article by State Bar ethics attorney Ellen Pitluk, which previously ran in shorter form in the Texas Bar Journal

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Fraud Alert: Con artists targeting lawyers with sophisticated scams

On March 2, the State Bar received a call from Houston lawyer Richard Merrill, who was targeted by an elaborate variation on an email scam that has targeted lawyers for some time. The email scams usually involve overseas criminals pushing bogus debt collection matters - if the scam succeeds, the targeted attorney deposits a fake cashier's check in trust and then disburses funds before the check clears (and is on the hook for the money).

Instead of email, Merrill was contacted directly by a Houston realtor who thought she was helping a London-based doctor buy a house in Houston. In fact she was dealing with a scam artist who had stolen the doctor's identity. Merrill offered his services and ultimately received a bogus cashier's check as a down payment for the house. Luckily for Merrill, his bank identified the check as fraudulent before it was deposited. Read Merrill's full account here.

The State Bar also heard from a Dallas firm which was listed in the return address field on about 300 bogus checks for $3,000 to $4,000 mailed from Fort Worth by scammers who asked their victims to send $500 in order for their checks to clear. The Bar also heard from a Dallas firm whose identity was stolen as part of a payday loan scam in which the scammer purported to be from the firm and attempting to collect a debt.

Attorneys should be extra-vigilant for scams of this type, and never issue a check from a trust account until deposited funds have been collected. Matters involving bank fraud are investigated by the Secret Service. If you are targeted, contact an office in your area.

For detailed information on the problem, see this article by State Bar ethics attorney Ellen Pitluk, which previously ran in shorter form in the Texas Bar Journal