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Reports: Fake Law Firm Site Targeting Lawyers in Real Estate Scam Uses Actual Law Firm Info, Photos

Posted May 5, 2011 12:06 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Screen shot of website of "Wagner Elliot" law firm.

A photo of the founding partner of "Wagner Elliot" and written material about him and the attorneys in his purported Toronto law partnership appears polished and professional on the firm's website.

That's because the fake Wagner Elliot firm—which the Law Society of British Columbia has warned lawyers to beware of—plagiarized photos from a real law firm website in creating an almost identical copycat web persona, reports the Declarations and Exclusions law blog. Its post relies in part on information from Antonin Pribetic, a Canadian trial and appellate lawyer who writes the Trial Warrior Blog.

The photos and biographies of two affiliated United Kingdom solicitors are used for the fake firm's Internet persona, along with virtually the entire website for the law firm that one of the solicitors heads.

The site for Wagner Elliot apparently is intended to help lull actual attorneys into a sense of security as they deposit a certified check from the "law firm," purportedly paid on behalf of a foreign client closing a local real estate transaction.

The deal, however, will fall through and a refund will be requested, the law society warns legitimate practitioners. "If you write a trust check before learning that the instrument was bad, you've been scammed."

The legitimate United Kingdom law firm whose Internet persona has been plagiarized didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the ABA Journal.

Hat tip: Vancouver Sun.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Law Firm Warns: Don’t Deposit Bogus Cashier Checks Seemingly Drawn on Our Account"

ABAJournal.com: "UK Regulatory Authority Warns Consumers About Mystery Manhattan Law Firm"

ABAJournal.com: "Lawyer Victimized in $300K Check Fraud is Charged With Money-Laundering"

ABAJournal.com: "Prestigious College Protests Virtual Twin, So Far to No Avail"

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