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Even attorneys get taken by scam e-mail, and a Fort Collins attorney, who serves as general counsel for the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming, was recently targeted. He was contacted by an overseas company by e-mail, in this case a supposed British traffic control systems company that wanted to pursue a collection action against a Colorado-based electronics parts company. Both checked out as legitimate businesses.

The attorney became suspicious, however, when he received a follow-up letter thanking him for his “wonderful retainer letter.” Not a common point for praise from clients. Rather than deposit the check as instructed, the attorney delivered it to his bank for investigation. And the fraud was discovered.

The scam is to retain that attorney as a settlement agent to collect a debt from a U.S. company. The company sends a settlement check to the lawyer, who deposits it into his trust account and then wires the settlement amount, minus his fee, to the “client.” But the settlement check is counterfeit and the lawyer loses the money he wired abroad.

This collection scam has many variations and is continually being updated, according to the BBB, making it difficult to spot immediately. Because of this, the BBB advises attorneys and their staffs to be wary of business dealings from potential foreign clients that are initiated via e-mail.

Anyone receiving such e-mail scams should forward them to the Federal Trade Commission at

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