Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lawyer Scammed Out of $182,500 in Check-Fraud Scam

Lawyers Warned to Be Wary of Client E-Mail Scams:
Houston lawyer Richard T. Howell Jr., whose firm was scammed out of $182,500 by a client who contacted and hired him through e-mail, says he is talking publicly about the situation so he can prevent other Texas lawyers from making the same mistakes.

"I'm a capital 'D' Dumbass," says Howell, who has practiced law for 23 years and is a partner in Buckley, White, Castaneda & Howell.

In October 2008, Howell became the victim of a sophisticated, international version of a classic check-fraud scam, say two Texas consumer law attorneys....

"What has happened to him is a typical form of check fraud," says Richard Tomlinson, of the Law Office of Richard Tomlinson in Houston.

Because he is responsible, Howell says, he did not ask his partners to help him cover the loss, which stemmed from collections work Howell did for a client who said he was a businessman in Japan. To reimburse his firm, Howell says, he had to borrow money on a home equity loan.

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