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E-mail Scam Hits Australian Law Firms

According to the New South Wales Law Society, an e-mail scam has been targeting the Australian law firms wherein a genuine overseas company urges a firm to help it in a debt collection issue. It then dispatches bogus cheques to the Australian law firms in order to deceive them.

The Law Society has referred to one such incident wherein the debtor company claimed of having its branch in Australia. Moreover, the company sent an e-mail from a prospective client who had agreed to make a part payment of the debt. When the law firm agreed to take up the matter, it received a cheque of US$ 250,000 from a US bank by express post. On the other occasion, the cheque amount increased to US$ 470,000.

After the cheques had been deposited to the law firm's account, the client pressurized the law firm to deduct its practice fee from the amount and send the balance (remaining amount) to an overseas account by EFT. This whole process took place before the clearance of cheque because overseas cheques took longer time in processing as compared to a cheque from a domestic bank.

When the debtor company's branch was contacted for clarification, they denied any involvement in debt and cheque matter.

Referring to another instance, the Law Society stated that a practice got scanned PDF documents. These documents included an invoice with an Australia-based debtor, certificate of quality certification, certificate of incorporation and passport.

Besides, the US bank said that they would not make payments on the questionable cheques, informing the law firm that the cheques were bogus.

Law firms across length and breadth of Australia are receiving these fake e-mails. As per the reports received, it is clear that several scammers are involved in the campaign because some of the documents and e-mails are highly sophisticated.

The Law Society has posted three examples of this scam on its website. It has also urged the law firms that they should check the cheque first and fund transfer should be made after the clearance.

Related article: E-Crime Reporting Format To Be Launched in July

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