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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Overseas fraudsters target local law firms, FBI reports

Advertiser Staff

The FBI says Honolulu law firms are being targeted in a fraud scheme.

A news release said the FBI has received six complaints from six law firms in the past six weeks with reported losses totaling more than $500,000.

The FBI says the scams begin with an e-mail from a prospective client from overseas seeking representation in a civil matter, such as a divorce.

The client sends the firm a cashier's check for a legal fee retainer in an amount far exceeding industry standards. When the law firm informs the client of the overpayment, the client requests a wire transfer refund to a foreign account. After the refund is sent, the firms find out the retainer check was counterfeit.

The scam involved bank accounts in South Korea, Taiwan and Canada.