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New e-mail scam targets attorneys

Attorneys have become the latest targets of e-mail scams.

The Salt Lake City Division of the FBI reports that at least four lawyers in Utah, Idaho and Montana have been bilked by bogus clients and has issued a warning about the situation.

"Con artists are attempting to hire attorneys over the internet to supposedly resolve a financial dispute or act as a go-between. But attorneys need to know that it may be nothing more than a set up that could leave them out a significant amount of money," said FBI Special Agent in Charge James McTighe.

Here's how it works:

An attorney is hired via e-mail. Within a short time the situation is resolved and the attorney receives a settlement check. The attorney keeps his or her portion and forwards the remaining amount to the client who hired them. Within about ten days the settlement check is returned by the bank because it's fake. The attorney must repay the bank the full amount, but the "client" can't be located.

The FBI says this scam is similar to other e-mail frauds that dupe consumers into unwittingly cashing a phony check and wiring part of the money to an individual overseas. SAC McTighe says, as with other e-mail scams, there are a few red flags to look out for, "The grammar is poor, the e-mails are usually sent by someone who claims to be living in another country, and the ruse can involve anything from divorce to debt collection."

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