Fraud Alert: May 5, 2008

Counterfeit bank drafts — yet another trust account scam

May 5, 2008

On January 22, the Law Society issued a fraud alert relating to counterfeit certified cheques that had arisen in Ontario. Other schemes have now surfaced in which counterfeit bank drafts, rather than counterfeit certified cheques, are used as a means of accessing lawyers’ trust funds.

One ruse involves a new client, located outside of Canada, requesting your assistance to recover a debt from a Canadian company. You send a demand letter and receive a bank draft for the full amount from the alleged debtor payable to your firm in trust. The bank draft is drawn on a Canadian bank and looks completely real. If you call the telephone number printed on the bank draft, the call is professionally answered and the bank draft is declared valid. The client will ask that you transfer the funds, less fees and disbursements, as soon as possible. It is only after the money is sent to the client that the law firm discovers the bank draft is not valid.

While BC law firms have been targeted, the Law Society is not aware of any firms falling victim to this scam. Lawyers are, however, urged to be vigilant at all times.