Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Referral Scams

Increasingly clever scammers are contacting Minnesota lawyers or real estate agents and asking for a referral so the victim lawyer thinks the scammer is being referred by a reputable law firm or real estate agency.  Pretending to be from Canada or England to gain credibility, they look for family law lawyers, probate lawyers, creditor-debtor lawyers, or even a lawyer to help with the purchase of real estate. They create phony websites that appear legitimate, mention real businesses or actual properties, and pretend they have a deal wrapped up. They even send you a check that appears authentic until proven counterfeit.  The check could even be “collected” and still come back, as only an audit might pick it up as counterfeit.  If you call the phone number on the check, a person pretending to be with the company will tell you the check is legitimate.  If you call the issuing bank, the bank may think the check is legitimate as it will have the correct routing and account numbers.  Be extremely suspicious of all deals with new clients and confirm the legitimacy of the transaction independently, i.e., don’t rely on the addresses, phone numbers, and contact information supplied but do your own research and be wary.

William G. Cottrell

Cottrell Law Firm, PA, Mendota Heights

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