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BASF Alerts Members to Email Scam Targetting Attorneys and Law Firms

This is a general reminder to all BASF members to be alert to a new scam targeting lawyers.

There appears to be a very dangerous scam originating in Brussels, Belgium and Tokyo, Japan that targets lawyers. Various iterations of this scam are hitting the states of Virginia, Tennessee and Florida and are strikingly similar to one perpetrated on an Alabama law firm last year.

The scam appears especially dangerous in light of the very specific and tailored response e-letter that was received. The inquiring attorney from Belgium shows as legitimate based on independent Internet research confirmations, as does the company he purports to represent. Moreover, the specific company said to be indebted to the Tokyo manufacturer also appears legitimate according to the Alabama Secretary of State.

As hard as it may be in this economy, prudence and due diligence cannot be emphasized enough. The real key to not becoming a victim is to make your support staff aware of the fact that international checks take more time to clear than do domestic checks. It is very important for lawyers to be patient in waiting for the bank to verify that the check is not counterfeit and that it has cleared. Always be wary of solicitations that sound too good to be true.

An Advisory issued by the FBI earlier this year notes: All Internet users need to be cautious when they receive unsolicited e-mails. Law firms are advised to conduct as much due diligence as possible before engaging in transactions with parties who are handling their business solely via e-mail, particularly those parties claiming to reside overseas. Individuals who receive information pertaining to counterfeit check schemes are encouraged to file a complaint at The IC3 complaint database links complaints for potential referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. Complaint information is also used to identity emerging trends and patterns.


The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104