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New Scams Hit Texas Law Firms; One Involves Phony House Purchase, Another Tarnished Reputations

Posted Mar 14, 2011 10:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A handful of Texas law firms are reporting new variations on scams involving fraudulent checks and requests for collection.

Houston lawyer Richard Merrill of Fabio & Merrill tells Texas Lawyer his law firm was targeted when a real estate agent called seeking legal help for a man who said in an e-mail that he wanted to buy a house in the city. The $500,000 check—which was more than needed to buy the property—turned out to be bogus. The law firm discovered the problem before refunding the overage.

In another scam, law firms' names are being cited by fraudsters targeting other victims. Dallas lawyer Gary Armstrong of Armstrong Kellett Bartholow said someone claiming to be from his firm was contacting people to collect payday loans that didn’t exist or had been paid off. “We are on the opposite side,” Armstrong said. “We only represent consumers” with claims against debt collectors.

The office manager of another firm said someone had mailed out phony checks in packages with her firm listed as the sender. The recipients were asked to wire part of the money to a Fort Worth address.

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