The North Carolina Attorney General's Office says law firms may be the newest targets of scam artists who dupe people with counterfeit checks.
Attorney General Roy Cooper says law firms in Gastonia, N.C. and Oxford, N.C. recently reported receiving phony checks for $85,000 and $295,000 from scammers who asked them to wire the money to bank accounts in Asia.
This appears to be a new spin on the old fake check scams. It begins with an email from someone who claims to be an American living overseas. The sender says their ex-spouse lives near the law firm and wants to hire them for legal representation. The scammer sends a check to cover the cost of representing them in court, but asks the firm to wire the remainder of the money back to them overseas.
"No matter how real a check looks, no matter how legitimate the situation may seem, never cash a check and then send a portion of the money back to the person who sent you the check," said Attorney General Roy Cooper. "If someone asks you to do this, it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it."
Banks often don't realize a check is counterfeit until several days after you deposit it, after you've likely wired the money. When you wire money, it's like sending cash in an envelope. Once you wire it, the money is gone and cannot be traced.