New instances of an old cheque scam have been circulating once again. In this scenario, lawyers are asked to represent a client in a medical expense/insurance settlement matter involving a dog bite. These types of scam attempts have unfortunately been circulating for some time, and we have issued previous fraud alerts to that effect:
There are numerous variations of names and details in these emails, and some are accompanied by dog bite photos (often copied from the internet). One example of the wording is as follows:
Do you practice personal injury on (Dog Bite)? Please let me know if you handle such cases so that I can send you more details or a referral will be highly appreciated. Thanks.
Ultimately the scammers are looking to have the lawyer wire transfer funds from their trust account after having deposited a bogus cheque in an amount exceeding the originally agreed-upon amount. As with all bad cheque scams, the goal is to have the “excess” money transferred before the lawyer and their financial institution realize that the original cheque is worthless.
Remember that you must always confirm a prospective client’s identification in accordance with the Client ID Regulations of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.
Be vigilant with every request for services that you receive, not just those received via the Internet. Fraudulent requests for services can be made by mail and courier, as well as by individuals who arrive in person to retain you and to use your trust account to receive and disburse funds. Be cautious with all cheques received, especially if they exceed the agreed upon amount.
If you do decide to proceed with a transaction where the funds are received and are to be paid out within a short period, be sure to go to the bank website to verify the branch transit number, address and phone number on the cheque. Wait until the bank confirms that the funds are legitimate and are safe to withdraw from the deposit. Where possible, use the Bank of Canada’s Lynx system (formerly the Large Value Transfer System (LVTS)), an electronic funds transfer system that allows large payments to be exchanged securely and immediately.
For tips to avoid being victimized, visit the Fraud section on lians.ca. To report or seek advice on dealing with fraud and scam attempts, contact Cynthia Nield at [email protected] or 902 423 1300, x346.