The Mississippi Attorney General's Office says an Internet scam is circulating that targets attorneys and law firms.
Attorney General Jim Hood said news reports indicate attorneys in several states have already fallen prey to this scam. The Mississippi Bar Association has also alerted its members.
Officials say the scam works like this: an attorney/law firm receives an email referral from someone saying that they have a collection matter or contract dispute and need a local attorney to handle. They will establish a relationship and after a short period of time, the client will notify the attorney that they have resolved the matter and have instructed the debtor to issue a check payable to the attorney. The attorney is instructed by the client to deposit the money into his account, take his fees and then wire the balance to the client. The scam occurs when the attorney receives the check and deposits it into his bank account. The check is bogus and comes back unpaid and the attorney is liable for the funds.
"Local attorneys and law firms are urged to use extreme caution and exercise diligence when presented with a situation similar to the one described above," said Hood. "If you encounter a similar situation, verify the names and contact information provided to you and do not disburse the deposited funds until the bank on which the cashier's check is drawn clears the check."
Hood says anyone who suspects they have been a victim of this scam or any other, should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-281-4418.