New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

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Director of Media Relations

State Bar Association Issues Alert About Scam

NEW BRUNSWICK: Following recent incidents involving a scam, the New Jersey State Bar Association is issuing an alert to members and the public about an email campaign seeking to trick attorneys.

Several members have reported receiving email solicitations that appear to come from a prospective client looking for help with a collection or similar matter, only to discover it is a check scam operation.

“We are asking attorneys around the state to be on high alert for suspicious emails. We are deeply concerned some in the legal community may be retained by a sender of one of these scam emails, and end up with a shortfall in their trust accounts out of the mistaken belief they were dealing with a bona fide client,” said President Allen A. Etish.

While there have been variations of the details, the way the scam plays out is consistent:

An attorney receives an email from a potential client. The email compliments the attorney for their good work, reputation, or sometimes their standing within the “Bar Association.” The sender asks for assistance with a delinquent collections or similar matter that requires the receipt of funds into an attorney’s trust account. If the attorney agrees, funds that appear to be legitimate, sometimes even by way of a bank check, are transferred. The client then requests the attorney hand over the money that has been deposited into the trust account. It is not until the attorney wires the funds to the client’s account that they learn the original check was bogus.

“Even in this age of fast-moving technology, it is important to get to know your clients through more than mere email exchanges,” said Etish. He further noted the association does not provide the public with attorney profiles or any comparative information about attorneys’ abilities, so any reference to a “Bar Association profile” or the like should be questioned.

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