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Ethics


possibly incur a separate set of ethical violations by improperly communicating with an opposing party. Make sure, as an attorney, that you use your best legal and ethical judgment when performing these verifications. In addition, many of these fraudulent companies are now


attempting to “validate” their appearance by loosely affiliating themselves with large legitimate corporations. Follow a similar verification protocol as described in the preceding paragraph to see if the association of the contacting corporation and the well-known company is legitimate. As always, make sure to limit the substance of the communications so as not to incur an additional ethical violation by communicating with a third party.


Using contact information you independently obtain,


contact the bank named on the purported cashier’s check two times in this process. First, contact that bank once you receive the purported check, but before you deposit it, to see if they can verify that they did indeed issue that particular check (for a cashier’s check) or if it is consistent with their client’s checks (for a corporate check) After depositing the purported check, contact that bank a second time before you wire any funds. Ask the bank to confirm that bank has received and paid the purported check. Keep a record of what that the bank stated and the name and title of the individual with whom you spoke.


Try to speak with an individual with sufficient authority and be clear on what they say. Whenever possible, take steps to identify and verify “client”


information. Ask yourself why the purported “client” seeks your services. For example, if your practice centers on domestic relations law, ask why a foreign company would contact you to collect a large commercial debt. Be suspicious of a solicitation that offers a relatively large fee or commission for little or no work. Finally, educate your staff to be on the lookout for these types of schemes. If, after taking the steps outlined herein, you feel the


transaction is probably OK and you desire to proceed, explain your concerns to your bank branch manager at the time you seek to deposit the purported check and ask to be put into contact with the bank’s corporate security office. In addition to all of the above, law firms can take the


following additional steps to prevent fraud loss. Some are notably easier to implement than others. Tat being said, when your client’s money, your money and your license are all on the line, it’s not hard to justify taking steps to protect yourself, your clients and your firm.


• Monitor your accounts daily and review the internal controls surrounding your payment processes. Tis is understandably one of the hardest and most demanding


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James Markham


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