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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alabama Law Firm Gets Fleeced in Web Scam

We don't normally find crime amusing. But a recent news item about crime here in Birmingham made me laugh out loud. In fact, I'm having to wipe a smile off my face right now, just thinking about it.

What was the crime? An online scam artist bilked a Birmingham business out of $200,000 to $400,000.

The victim? A law firm. And get this: It apparently was a debt-collection law firm.

If you find the words "couldn't happen to a nicer bunch" leaving your lips, join the crowd.

Steve Ferguson, a special agent with the FBI office in Birmingham, described the crime to The Birmingham News:

A scammer pretending to represent an overseas company contacts a law firm via e-mail saying it needs the firm's help in collecting a debt from a U.S. client. In the Birmingham case, the "company" pretended to be from Asia. The law firm will also get a bogus referral from another law firm, saying they've worked with the company before.

Once the communication begins, the supposed debtor finds out that legal action is afoot, contacts the law firm and agrees to pay its tab. A counterfeit check is deposited in the law firm's account. The "client" tells the law firm to subtract its fees and send the balance to the "client's" overseas account. Once the bank discovers the check is fake, the law firm is held responsible for the full amount.

The FBI declined to name the Birmingham firm that got suckered. But probably the four best-known debt-collection firms in Birmingham are Zarzaur & Schwartz, Nathan & Nathan, Ingram & Associates, and Halcomb & Wertheim.

Debt collectors, and the law firms who represent them, are notorious for violating federal law. I've witnessed that firsthand.

If any of the four firms mentioned above got duped . . . well, this is one time I might have to pull for the criminals to get away with it.

And talk about hypocrisy. The Alabama State Bar apparently is concerned, sending an e-mail to warn law firms about the scam. How does the State Bar react when informed that a law firm has scammed a client? Often with a form letter telling the client, in so many words, "tough luck, we're not even going to investigate."

I've witnessed that firsthand, too.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of scams and the federal remedies to the illegal U.S. operation of the "free market"

Here's the CEO of US Bank, in March 2007, representing to the MBA fancy school in California (UCDAVIS), that U.S. Bank DID NOT HAVE ANY OF THAT .. "SUBPRIME"

However, how does he explain the NEW CENTURY SUBPRIME CRIMINAL OPERATION as owned by U.S. Bancorp.?

THE most criminal subprime operation known AND THE FIRST IN LINE TO BE THE "SUBPRIME BUBBLE BURSTING."

http://www.gsm.ucdavis.edu/uploadedFiles/Explore_Our_School/GSM_NewsCenter/Innovator_Magazines/U.S.BancorpCEORichardDavis.pdf “I’m happy to report that we aren’t in that business and we
don’t have those kinds of loans,” Davis said of U.S. Bancorp.

Finance News, Academic articles, and other things from FinanceProfessor.com. Remember Finance is not only important, but it is also fun!!!
http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/us-bancorp-ceo-explains-banking.html

US Bancorp CEO Explains Banking | Simoleon Sense

Ok, yes I know this was pre-Lehman, and even pre-Bear! That said, it is an excellent starting point to understand banking. (If I were currently teaching a Money and Banking class I guarantee it would be required and tested).

Richard Davis (the CEO) speaks on the banking industry as well as his own firm.

US Bancorp CEO Explains Banking | Simoleon Sense:
"This video was posted at the noisefree investing blog. Great find.

In this hour long video, Davis -one of the few banking CEO’s to remain largely unscathed in the recent financial mess- gives a great overview of the banking system. Davis is the CEO at US Bancorp."

While many might question the term unscathed (stock price fell by over 70% at trough), it is true they seemingly came through it alive. And yes, it should be noted that US Bancorp did get TARP money and is currently in plans to issue new equity.

A great class project would be to look at the firm and see what happened to it over the past 18 months realizing its exposure to the California housing market. (Hint: use Google lab's TimeLine (which wont allow me to link to it, but is very good and could easily be used to make a fascinating class discussion)
Posted by FinanceProfessor at 11:51 AM

U.S. BANCORP. INVESTS in MONSANTO:
http://www.responsibletechnology.org/utility/showArticle/?objectID=2989

U.S. BANCORP. INVESTS IN CCA (CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA) and this company has ITS' major shareholder: DICK CHENEY.

Spread the word about U.S. BANCORP.s agenda to take over the world, clearly, and with all the lies any CEO could hope to tell about it all.

THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM IS ALL THE BANCORPS. (INDYMAC, et al.) AND EVERY NATIONAL BANK, too.

Banks run America and Obama took more money from the banks than any other "politician" to-date.

Uh oh.

Best, LS, from "B"

Robby Scott Hill said...

Don't forget about those great guys at Nadler & Associates or Cloud and Tidwell who in addition to Nathan & Nathan have made my life a living hell for the last four years. Keith Nadler garnished my pay when I was only making $8.00 an hour and gas was $4.75 a gallon. I love you Keith Nadler! Oh and Nathan & Nathan claimed I was common law married to a woman I had never even met and tried to make me pay her bills as if I didn't already have enough of my own. What goes around comes around. Greed can make you rich, but it can also screw you like the the people you have screwed.
I'm laughing my ass off. Ha Ha!

Anonymous said...

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings was the firm that got scammed. One of the largest firms in the Southeast.

Solicitors in Leicester said...

Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article.
this sites found to be too good, for the informations on law firms .

Anonymous said...

Cloud and Tidwell continue to harassment me and asking for someone who never had my phone number and I have never heard of. This is the second time (series of phone numbers) I have talked to them about it...so who is really getting scammed? I hope they go out of business with there illegal practices of harassing people.