Fraud Alert: August 4, 2016

Phony debt collection nets scammer $500,000

August 4, 2016

A lawyer has reported being defrauded of approximately $500,000 on a bad cheque scam. In this phony debt collection, the debt was purportedly created by a loan agreement and promissory note from the borrower "Sean Blackwell." "Blackwell" provided a cheque payable to the lawyer in trust to pay the phony outstanding debt. After the lawyer deposited the cheque and transferred the funds to "Ronald Morris," the name used by the overseas client in Japan, the fraud came to light. "Ronald Morris" is listed on the Law Society's bad cheque scam names and documents web page.

While the names, ruses and email addresses may change, a scammer's goal is to obtain money from a lawyer's trust account. Before acting for a new client, check the bad cheque scam list of names on our website. You may find your new client's name.

A lawyer relying on an agent to verify the identity of a client not present in Canada, must have an agreement in writing with the agent for this purpose (Rule 3-104). See Appendix II of the Client Identification and Verification Procedure Checklist in the Practice Checklists Manual for a sample agreement with an agent. It is prudent for the lawyer to choose the agent rather than the client.

Read more about how to protect yourself from this type of scam.

This fraud alert includes names used by fraudsters in BC. Real people with the same names may be the victims of a fraudster or of coincidence, but are not suspected of wrongdoing.