January 19, 2022
Alberta Firm Targeted by Trust Account Scam

A fraudster attempted to divert a transfer of trust money between firms by posing as the receiving firm and asking that the money be deposited into a different account because their trust account was being audited. The scam was discovered when the sending firm phoned the other firm, who confirmed their original trust account details.

The bogus request contained the name of a legitimate company and banking instructions. However, red flags were raised after emails coming from the client and the other firm started showing up in another Outlook folder as if they were being misdirected. On closer inspection, the email address from the other firm was slightly altered and contained an extra hyphen.

Please note that The Law Society of Alberta conducts audits of lawyers’ trust accounts. If The Law Society selects a firm for an audit, it will not restrict transactions in and out of a trust account. All funds received in trust must be deposited into the law firm’s approved trust account. If you are contacted by anyone purporting to be conducting an audit of your trust accounts, please confirm their credentials by contacting Trust Safety via email or phone at 403.228.5632. Alternatively, you may contact The Law Society of Alberta at 403.229.4700.

Another law firm reported a loss of their funds after their insurance broker's email was intercepted, and an e-transfer sent from the firm’s general account to pay an office insurance premium was deposited to a fraudster’s account. Again, the fraudster’s email address was only slightly different from the real broker’s address, but this went unnoticed until the insurance company called asking why the payment had not been sent.

Learn how to Recognize, Avoid and Protect Yourself Against Fraud. For tips to avoid being victimized, read our list of Red Flags.

Recent cybercrime attacks have not been limited to social engineering scams, with a bad cheque scam involving construction equipment continuing to circulate. Two Calgary firms reported that they were targeted by this scam (one of the firms was targeted twice), with the fraudster seeking legal services for the sale of equipment using the client name “Jake Williams”. ALIAlert previously reported this scam in Lawyer’s Digging Unearths Construction Equipment Scam. An explanation of typical bad cheque scams can be found in Bad Cheque and Social Engineering Scams Continuing into Summer

ALIA remains grateful to Alberta lawyers and firms for their continued reports of potentially fraudulent activities.

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If you believe you have been targeted by potentially fraudulent activity, please contact ALIAlert.