Keeping ahead of COVID-19
This rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) has imposed a fluid situation upon our community and its businesses. The team here still aims to maintain a “business as usual” approach, we are still meeting with clients in person. We are also offering video and telephone appointments to all our clients.
BOZEMAN OFFICE 406-582-8822 HELENA OFFICE 406-449-4829
GET HELP NOW!

Blog

Beware of IOLTA Scams 

Posted on January 27th, 2021

I used to manage an attorney-owned title agency in Florida.  It was part of my job to wire closing proceeds from our trust account to sellers of real estate (sometimes millions of dollars) on a daily basis.  One day, I received an email from a trusted client instructing me to wire $40,000.00 of his net proceeds from the sale of an investment home on Marco Island to an account name and number listed in the same email.  

I went as far as entering the JP Morgan key swab code online when I stopped.  Something just didn’t feel right.  The name on the account was the name of an LLC, but the name was unusual because this particular client always named his LLCs the addresses of his properties.  

I called the trusted client and asked him to verify the wire instructions in the email.  What he told me next sent a shiver down my spine to the point my hands were visibly shaking.  He told me that he never sent me an email.  

Once I got myself composed, I went back to the email and noticed a very subtle difference in the sender’s email address, which otherwise matched my real client’s email address verbatim.  The sender was a hacker who had hacked into our firm’s email system, traced emails about my real client’s real estate closing, waited for the closing date, and then sent me the fraudulent wire instructions.  And I would have lost $40,000.00 of my client’s money if my client hadn’t named all of his LLCs the addresses of his properties.

About a month later, I read an article about a Florida attorney-agent who wired over $250,000.00 of her client’s money to a fraudulent account under the same circumstances.  The lesson is that whenever wiring funds, always call and verify the wire instructions.  If you do not personally know the recipient, have them, not you, verify the account number.  And, as always, be more than careful about any transactions to and from your IOLTA account. This is why Silverman Law is here to help you. Contact our team of Bozeman and Helena attorneys you can trust us.

CONTACT US

Fill out the form below to get in touch with our legal team or call Bozeman office at (406) 582-8822 or our Helena office at (406) 449-4829 to talk to someone right away.