ALIA has been advised of a potential attempted fraud against an Alberta lawyer this week. It appears to be a variation of the fake cheque scam. The variation is that the individual perpetrating the fraud actually comes to the lawyer’s office, in person!
In this case, the probable fraudster (“PF”) attended in person at Lawyer’s office, claiming to reside in both India and Dubai. PF told Lawyer that he is in Alberta for the summer and wants to settle his divorce while he is here. He tells Lawyer that he and his wife have been apart since 2002 and he wants to settle the property claim for $900,000 to $1.2 million. He wants to retain Lawyer to do the paper work and PF would then transfer funds from his overseas account to Lawyer in trust. Lawyer would then transfer the settlement funds to PF’s wife.
Lawyer saw the red flags and did not fall for the apparent fraud. He told PF that he was suspicious of funds coming from an offshore account and that if Lawyer took on the retainer, Lawyer would have to hold the funds for a very long time to make sure the money cleared Lawyer’s account. Lawyer suggested that PF open a Canadian bank account but PF declined. PF also did not have any details about how the settlement amount was arrived at. Finally, PF had no ID. Lawyer declined to take the bait/retainer!
ALIA is grateful to the member of the legal profession who reported this incident, for being cautious in his practice and for sharing it for the benefit of other members of the legal profession in Alberta.