Texas attorneys continue to be targeted by online scammers. Throughout 2017, there were several attempts to coerce people into sending money while claiming to work for real law firms. In a recent rash of scams, websites have been designed to mirror firms’ very real pages. But there are giveaways—and resources for verifying the not-so obvious scams.
According to a recent complaint we received, one such website, lanierpartllp.com, was set up to impersonate that of the Lanier Law Firm. However, spotty details and outright misinformation exposed the address, which is no longer accessible as of this writing. Those included using “Joseph Lanier” interchangeably with firm founder Mark Lanier, listing a New York phone number that goes to a recording, and having a different logo. The actual law firm, which houses offices in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, lists no attorney by the name of Joseph Lanier.
In June, we reported on a similar scam involving yet another fictitious law firm website. This site touted estate planning and other legal services in the Houston area—scammers mailed letters to people claiming they were owed an inheritance. The site was complete with fake attorney names and photos and bios lifted from real law firm websites.
Other similar scams have taken place overseas using information from Texas attorneys. In mid-November, we received a report of a scammer using a lawyer’s information to establish a fake law firm website and contact a person in Australia. The impersonator claimed to be able to help the person recover money from a bankrupt company called Norton Pearce Associates. The same attorney’s name was used in another ploy to collect money—this time changing the company’s name to Stuart Lyall.
The State Bar of Texas offers tips on avoiding scams. Lawyer credentials can be checked on the “Find a Lawyer” search on texasbar.com or by calling the State Bar Membership Department at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1383. Search for law firms in Texas by using this form and entering the firm’s name in the contact information. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, contact your local law enforcement immediately.