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So Much For "Due Diligence..."

There's an old aphorism that says you can't con an honest man. It's not 100% true, but it is true that most confidence games are based on the greed and dishonesty of the mark. The target thinks he's getting something for nothing, and instead gets nothing for something.

Those words of wisdom fell on deaf ears when it came to a certain New Hampshire lawyer.

Said attorney got taken by an international scam. He was contacted by an alleged Chinese company, who said they wanted him to manage some of their accounts. They sent him a certified check, along with detailed instructions on how to disburse it (after getting his cut). The check arrived, he deposited it, sent out the required payments, and patted himself on the back for his good fortune.

Until it turned out the certified check was a forgery, and he was left holding the bag for almost a quarter of a million dollars.

Another attorney also nibbled at the bait, but didn't bite. He took the money, sat on it, and contacted the reputed attorney for the people supposed to get the money. That lawyer didn't know a damned thing about the deal, so when that certified check also turned out to be bogus, no harm was done.

I feel I ought to be surprised that a lawyer -- a highly-educated person who ought to be used to dealing with people at their worst -- fell for this scam, but I'm not. It's been my experience that there are a lot of people who are too highly educated -- the acquisition of knowledge seems to be at the expense of their common sense.

I also don't feel quite as sympathetic for the victim here. A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money, and it's now in the pockets of real scumbags. But the lawyer in question figured they had stumbled into a sweet, sweet deal they hadn't earned, and... well, it's a lawyer. It's not like a real human being was ripped off.

But it's a good reminder to the rest of us. There are people out there looking to give money away, just like there are teenagers looking to have sex with older men and multi-level marketers who want to let you in on the latest guaranteed money-making engine.

But for every one of them, there's a zillion more fakers out there.

No charge for the lesson, Counselor. You've already paid for it.


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Comments (8)

"It's not like a real human... (Below threshold)
914:

"It's not like a real human being was ripped off."

Yeah, not at all like the way Barry is rippin us off!

About 15 years ago a 'finan... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

About 15 years ago a 'financial expert' approached our city mayor with a fantastic deal. All the good mayor had to do was sign over deposited city funds 'as security' in order to back financial transactions in the European money market. The rate of return would insure the city was awash in money. As a matter of fact, if you followed the logic, the city would OWN ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD INSIDE OF 30 DAYS!

The dumb ass actually ORDERED the city treasurer to sign the necessary documents. Luckily for the citizens, she declined to do so, telling the mayor he was an idiot.

When the local paper wrote it up, the 'financial expert' (a lawyer) said he intended to sue for defamation of character. No one's heard from him since.

"When the local paper wr... (Below threshold)
914:

"When the local paper wrote it up, the 'financial expert' (a lawyer) said he intended to sue for defamation of character. No one's heard from him since."


When do we sue Barry for defamation of Country? Sign Me up!

This is a variation of a sc... (Below threshold)
Rance:

This is a variation of a scam that is used on the unsuspecting via Craig's List and eBay.

The victim offers something for sale. The scam artist buys it and pays with a counterfeit check or money order for more than the sale price. The scam artist then asks the victim to cut a check for the difference. When the check is found to be bogus, the victim is out the amount of the refund.

You'd be surprised at thing... (Below threshold)
James H:

You'd be surprised at things, Jay.

Not long ago, Above the Law reported on a lawyer who sprung for this ... but he'd long been doing fraudulent transactions with his other accounts, then the scam pulled him in and got him in deep, deep water.

But as for attorneys who fall for this, it gets complex when it comes time to assess blame or gullibility. Obviously, if you're a general-practice attorney in upstate New Hampshire and somebody contacts you to act for a client in Hong Kong. That should raise red flags immediately, especially if your regular practice revolves around speeding tickets, reckless driving, and DUIs.

But what if the scam seems directly in line with your law firms usual work? This case stands out, in my opinion. In it, a "Japanese firm" contacted a law firm to do collections work, then the "debtor" on the other hand sent the law firm a check to cover part of the "debt." Doing what law firms normally do, the lawyer deposited the "check," then wired the money to its "client" ... only to find it had been scammed.

Interestingly, I was recent... (Below threshold)
Weegie:

Interestingly, I was recently contacted for a similar thing from an alleged Russian firm, who found my resume on line.

As I read the message from "Boris", red flags immediately went up in my mind. It was obvious to me that they wanted to do something very similar to the above-mentioned scam, and I quickly came to the decision to erase the message and give it no further thought.

I found the scam to be quite transparent. I don't understand how other people let themselves be so easily fooled. It's their misfortune.

Yep. Happened to me.... (Below threshold)
serfer62:

Yep. Happened to me.
Took said way-over-amount check to bank. Took the banl 12 minutes to find out the check was bogus, who had issued it and cashed it.
Told sendee I would send check to the feds as it violated innerstate laws. Never heard from sendee again...

Greed and Honesty are not m... (Below threshold)
Mike Lorrey:

Greed and Honesty are not mutually exclusive.




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