Business of Law

Attorney fears claimed lawyer impersonation, using his name and bar number, isn't the only one

For at least the second time this week, a lawyer is in the news because someone else assumed the attorney’s identity.

Earlier this week, a California solo said someone else filed a motion, using her name and bar number, in a high-profile federal case. Now a woman tells KENS a 19-year-old man using a real Texas lawyer’s information persuaded her family he was that attorney and obtained a $10,000 retainer. Her son had won an appeal of his criminal case and needed a lawyer to seek an appeal bond on his behalf.

“We made sure that the bar number was correct. We made sure that the Anderson Law Firm existed. We gave him the check,” Doraine Hilliard told the station, referring to Ian Cone, who persuaded her he had changed his name to Ian Fried and worked at the San Antonio law firm.

In fact, there is a real attorney by that name, but he works for a different firm, in the Dallas area. Cone is now in jail facing a theft case related to Hilliard’s claims.

Contacted by the station, the real attorney told KENS such crimes are difficult to prevent, due to the public nature of bar numbers and widespread expectations that lawyers will have a presence on social media.

“He was using my entire background. He claimed to be from the same law school that I attended,” said Fried, who told the station he believes Cone got his bar number online.

The Texas bar association has put an alert on the case in its records, to try to speed detection of any similar misuse of the attorney’s name. However, Fried is worried that the Hilliard family may not be only victim of Cone’s claimed impersonation.

“My big fear is that if Cone, or any other associates he has–assuming he is not by himself, which we don’t know–perpetrated this crime on someone else and it comes back later,” Fried said.

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