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Issue 72 | November 2021

LIANSWERS

This newsletter includes information to help lawyers reduce the likelihood of being sued for malpractice. The material presented is not intended to establish, report, or create the standard of care for lawyers. The articles do not represent a complete analysis of the topics presented, and readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.
FRAUD ALERT: Scam Attempts Before the Holidays, During the Pandemic

We've issued dozens of fraud alerts during the pandemic, and continue to receive daily reports from lawyers around the province. You should always be vigilant to fraud, but particularly a) during the pandemic, when scammers target distracted staff and impermanent workplaces, hoping that these vulnerabilities will delay detection of scams; and b) around the holiday season, as scammers frequently target firms in hopes that the extra banking closure days will further delay detection of a scam. Here is a round-up of the most recent common scam attempts and red flags that we've been seeing:

FRAUD ALERT: Large Construction Machine Purchase/Transaction Scam (Oct 22nd, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: NS Lawyers' Website, Contact Information "Spoofed" (Sep 27th, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: Cyber Scams Rampant (Aug 23rd, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: Law Society of BC Issues Land Title Warning (Jul 23rd, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: "Dog Bite" Cheque Scam Resurfaces (May 25th, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: Law Society of BC Issues Shelf Company Inquiries Warning (Apr 27th, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: Ransomware Attacks Hit Three U.S. Law Firms in 24 Hours (Feb 23rd, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: BC Law Firm Attacked by Trojan Virus (Jan 25th, 2021)

FRAUD ALERT: Negligence Lawsuit Against Law Firms Highlights Liability Risks of Wire Scams (Nov 24th, 2020)

FRAUD ALERT: Fake Law Firm "Lawman & Associates" (Oct 26th, 2020)

FRAUD ALERT: Job Application Email Scams (Sep 21st, 2020)

FRAUD ALERT: Fake Law Firm Websites Targeting Lawyers (Jul 27th, 2020)

FRAUD ALERT: Manitoba Firms Fall Victim to Ransomware Scams (Jun 24th, 2020)

FRAUD ALERT: Bogus cheque scam circulating (Jun 12th, 2020)

FRAUD ALERT: Scam attempts rampant (May 26th, 2020)

FRAUD ALERTS: "Request from Boss" Scams; Bogus Invoices; Phony "Canada Post" Deliveries (Apr 28th, 2020)

FRAUD ALERT: Phony invoice payment request (Feb 24th, 2020)


With bad cheque schemes, a lawyer is retained by a bogus client and receives funds into his or her trust account by way of a cheque or bank draft that appears legitimate. A sense of urgency with the transaction is often implied by the client. As a result, within days of receiving the funds and depositing them to the trust account, the lawyer pays out funds from the account before learning (sometimes many weeks later) that the funds were bogus, the cheque returned and his or her trust account debited.

Scammers frequently target firms just before a holiday weekend, as they know that this is a time when offices are often short staffed and transaction details might not be checked as closely as they might otherwise be. Also, the extra banking holiday will result in delays in the return of counterfeit cheque or bank draft to the firm. If you do decide to proceed with a transaction where the funds are received and are to be paid out within a short period, be sure to go to the bank website to verify branch transit number, address and phone number on the cheque. Wait until the bank confirms that the funds are legitimate and are safe to withdraw from the deposit. Where possible, use the Bank of Canada’s Lynx system (formerly the Large Value Transfer System (LVTS)), an electronic funds transfer system that allows large payments to be exchanged securely and immediately.

Remember that you must always confirm a prospective client’s identification in accordance with the Client ID Regulations of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

Be vigilant with every request for services that you receive, not just those received via the Internet. Fraudulent requests for services can be made by mail and courier, as well as by individuals who arrive in person to retain you and to use your trust account to receive and disburse funds. Be cautious with all cheques received, especially if they exceed the agreed upon amount.

For tips to avoid being victimized, and to report or seek advice on dealing with fraud and scam attempts, contact Cynthia Nield at cnield@lians.ca or 902 423 1300, x346