Posts tagged: fraud

The Latest Fraudulent Bank Check Scam

You are probably wondering why the scam artists keep coming up with new ways to try to rip you off.  It’s because they are well paid to do it by uninformed people who take their bait, including attorneys throughout the U.S.  Here’s the latest:

Sir/Ma

We are a Chinese Company based in the Hong Kong involved in the production and exportation of semi Finished steel products such as, Low alloy vessels, Carbon plates, Ship Building plates and Plates for boiler/Vessel to Canada and USA.

We are looking to expand our business network in these countries but presently we are having problems receiving payment for already supplied goods because most payment comes in our Customer’s local Canadian Cheques/Drafts. And it takes too long to clear the payments in the Hong Kong.

We are looking to hire the services of any individual/ legal Company that resides in the Country  as a payment receiving agent for our customers .

You will be required to receive the payments from our customers in your Country in the form of Cashers Checks , bank draft  and cash delivery , you will in turn send the payment to us. You are entitled to 15% Commission of every payment you receive.

You will be receiving at least 4-5 payments monthly. If you are interested in being our Payment receiving agent, please get back to us
with the following information.

Full Names:
Full Contact Address:
Age: (25yrs and Above)
Tel #:
Fax #:
Occupation:

Apply immediately to the Human Resource manager via email:

Sharon Kadiri
Owen Machinery., LTD.,

6/F,Trade Service Center  ,388 Kwun Road

Kowloon, Hong Kong

These scam artists are so good, they create web sites for their phony companies, and may even have a “live” telephone which is answered by a no-gooder.  Beware anything that asks you to accept certified cashier’s checks, and then wire money out of the country.  Your “cut” is usually too good to be true, because it isn’t true at all!

Twitter username worth $50k?

A very interesting article on CNET News caught my attention.  The headline “Coveted $50,000 Twitter username swiped in tale of woe” intrigued me on more than one level.  First, of course, are the security issues.  Definitely read the article, and track back to the blog post, to get an idea of how vulnerable your online accounts can be.

Second, was the fact that a username could have such a value.  Maybe it’s time to start thinking creatively and reserving free account names that may become desirous later.  Hmmm . . . wonder if @Personal_Injury is available?

Although the latest update to the story includes a strong denial from PayPal about divulging information which allowed the hacker to hijack the user’s accounts, I tend to believe the user, Naoki Hiroshima.  There are tons ways a “confused caller” can get small bits of information over the phone; enough to later claim an account.

PayPal’s name has been associated with all sorts of online fraud, almost since they first started.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not PayPal itself, but nefarious individuals who have exploited their name for phishing and identity theft schemes since day one.  For that reason alone, I have long advised attorneys to use something other than PayPal for credit card service (merchant account) their clients can use to pay.  Just the association to the name still leaves a chill of risk for many who remember the horror stories.

Use of Criminal Records in Hiring Decisions

I was instructing a class of 2L and 3L students at Drexel’s Earl Mack School of Law this past Monday, and included was my recommendation to use a credit and criminal records check for any potential new hire who would be handling client money, as a fraud prevention strategy .  In passing I indicated that there are certain legalities which will apply in order to do it properly, so as not to discriminate or violate privacy rights.

Today I received a Labor and Employment Alert from Ballard Spahr entitled “OFCCP Issues Guidance on Use of
Criminal Records in Employment Decisions” and the timing could not have been more perfect.  The guidance issued on this topic was issued by the EEOC Commission on April 25, 2012.

I continue to be grateful to Ballard Spahr’s hard-working and knowledgeable attorneys who keep pushing essential information out to people like me, in clearly understandable language.  It’s not the first time I have cited them and provided a compliment — something I don’t give too freely.

Attorneys have an obligation under Rule 1.15 [Safekeeping Property] to exercise a reasonable amount of care and due diligence in protecting client property.  When hiring employees who will handle client money — bookkeeper, estate paralegal, secretary in a small firm — the firm should check into the applicant’s criminal and credit history.  Failing to do so can have serious consequences, not least of which is the PR.  One law firm in Montgomery County found out the hard way.  They hired an estate paralegal without doing a reference check, let alone a criminal or credit check.  Only after money was stolen did they discover that the employee had previously worked for a law firm in New York, where she had been arrested for the same crime, and was out on bail when the PA firm hired her.  She was paying restitution to her former firm from the funds she was stealing from her new employer.  That’s about as bad as it gets.

Be sure to review the EEOC Guidance, or consult with a qualified attorney, so that you do it properly, and in a manner which does not have a disparate impact based on race or ethnicity, or any other protected category.  Yes, you have to be careful.  However, failing to check at all is taking a greater risk, and may create exposure for your firm for failing to take reasonable precautions in determine who handles client property.

While I’m doling out thanks, I wish to express my appreciation to Debra Speyer, the adjunct profession at Earl Mack, for bringing me back as a guest lecturer again this year.  I provided the students with an introduction to best practices for financial and procedural management.  It feels great knowing that at least a few of the new generation of baby lawyers will have some “real world” practical information when they graduate and join a firm or hang out their shingle.

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