Scammers targeting the elderly have set up a fake law firm website as part of an elaborate scam designed to trick the public, according to a lawsuit filed by the Houston Bar Association.
The scam reportedly involved sending letters to elderly people informing them that they are due to receive life insurance proceeds as a way to gain bank account numbers and financial information. The law firm depicted in the website is fictitious and the lawyer photos and bios were stolen from other websites.
The State Bar of Texas is concerned about this news and wants the public to be cautious about this and other potential scams.
To check the credentials of someone who claims to be a licensed Texas attorney, you can do an easy “Find A Lawyer” search on the front page of the State Bar’s website, texasbar.com. Your search will reveal whether a lawyer by that name exists, his or her eligibility to practice in Texas, any public disciplinary history, and more. Similarly, you can search for law firms in Texas by using this form and typing in a keyword used in the firm name. You can also call the State Bar membership department at (800)-204-2222 ext. 1383 if you’re concerned about whether a lawyer is licensed.
Also keep in mind there restrictions on how and when an attorney may make contact with a member of the public.
Generally speaking, an attorney can send a member of the public a solicitation when a specific legal event has occurred. For example, if someone received a traffic ticket. The attorney must be very specific about how he or she received the information about the legal event and must prominently display the word “Advertisement” on the information sent.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, immediately contact your local police department.
If you believe someone is practicing law without a license, the Supreme Court of Texas has created the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, which is charged with preventing, investigating and prosecuting unauthorized practice of law. You can file a complaint for the committee to investigate here.