Fake lawyers, real scam

The Law Society of British Columbia warns lawyers about a sophisticated con involving a phony law firm website:

Wagner Elliot LLP is not a real law firm, but in yet another twist on the bad cheque scam, a sophisticated fraudulent website (www.wagnerelliot.com) is used to fool you into believing that it is. The scamsters hope to trick you into paying out on a phony trust cheque, certified cheque or bank draft.

Although Wagner Elliott LLP is used as the bogus site in this scam, the details — including the fake law firm used — may vary. Here’s generally how the scam works:

  • You are contacted by a new client who claims to live in another country (e.g. Japan) and wants you to act on a conveyance.
  • The client has used a BC realtor to make an offer to purchase with subjects on a residential property in BC.
  • The realtor sends you the signed contract of purchase and sale.
  • The client tells you that they will have their Wagner Elliot LLP lawyer, based in Toronto, send you the funds.
  • You receive a well made but phony instrument for deposit into your trust account.
  • Soon after you deposit the funds into trust, the client contacts you to say that they aren’t removing the subjects and to please return the funds.
  • If you write a trust cheque before learning that the instrument was bad, you’ve been scammed.
The “Wagner Elliott LLP” website is here.  It would have fooled me, until I noticed that their address was listed as “123 Fake Street.”

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