Business of Law

Sued by bank, lawyer says he was also victimized by client's $297K check scam

An Ohio lawyer is now embroiled in litigation after apparently being victimized in an overseas check scam perpetrated by a purported client.

F. Stephen Chamberlain says he deposited a $297,500 cashier’s check into his Union Bank trust account and, after being assured by a JPMorgan Chase Bank representative that the check was good, wired almost all of the money to Japan, the Lima News reports.

“My client was using me and my bank account to commit fraud,” Chamberlain told the paper, adding that he has notified the FBI but doesn’t know if much can be done to rectify the situation.

A lawsuit filed in Allen County Common Pleas Court by Union Bank against the attorney and Chase also contends that Chase negligently said the bogus check was good. The suit says $294,400 of the money was sent by Chamberlain to Japan in October, shortly after he deposited the fake cashier’s check.

A Chase Bank representative said it doesn’t comment on litigation.

Alerted by Chamberlain of a problem with the first check, after it was deposited in October, the client subsequently submitted a second check, for $498,500, which was also determined to be bogus, the newspaper recounts, relying on information from Chamberlain and the Union Bank suit.

A number of other law firms also have reported being targeted in such schemes. Authorities have warned that lawyers should beware of international clients they haven’t met in person seeking help with matters that soon resolve with the submission of a large check, often from a third party.

Related coverage: “Law Firms Still Victimized in Fake-Check Web Scams; Trial Looms for Nigerian Accused in $32M Swindle” “Reports: Fake Law Firm Site Targeting Lawyers in Real Estate Scam Uses Actual Law Firm Info, Photos” “Lawyer Victimized in $300K Check Fraud Is Charged with Money-Laundering” “Lawyer Who Says He Was Scammed Is Sued by Bank Re Fake $299K Cashier’s Check”

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