Watching out for questionable schemes and scams

Lawyers are cautioned to be vigilant about avoiding scams.

From a con artist's perspective, duping a lawyer is very attractive. Not because lawyers are easily targeted - they are not. But if one lawyer can be tricked into participating in a questionable scheme - for example, by passing funds through his or her trust account - a con artist may be successful in persuading many other people that it is legitimate.

Lawyers are seen as credible, and people may believe that a lawyer's involvement means the transaction is legitimate and secure. If the lawyer's involvement does not amount to the practice of law, however, exactly the opposite is true. The lawyer may not be covered by liability insurance, and both investors and the lawyer may face losses.

For any transaction in which you are involved, and particularly those involving investment schemes, it is always sound to think through the issues: Do you fully understand the transaction? Are you satisfied the investment is legitimate? Are you satisfied as to the nature and authenticity of the securities involved? Are you satisfied the source of the funds is legitimate? If a financial institution is involved, are you satisfied that it actually exists and is legitimate? Are you offering legal services and advice, and acting as a lawyer in the transaction? Are your obligations clear? If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, why are you involved?

Through lack of caution, a lawyer might unwittingly be caught in an improper scheme, and may face serious financial risks and other consequences. It merits a second look.

Please direct any questions or comments to:

Lawyers Insurance Fund
Tel: (604) 669-2533 or
Toll-free within B.C.: 1-800-903-5300
Fax: (604) 682-5842.