Lawyers need to beware of a new family-law twist on the ubiquitous email-check fraud scam. Reports indicate that numerous lawyers have been targeted by emailers who,assuming a false identity, say they need a lawyer to help them collect payments owed under a divorce agreement.

Typically the emailer claims to be an ex-wife owed money by the ex-husband under the agreement. When the lawyer takes the bait and agrees to the engagement, the “ex-husband” – actually the same scammer – sends the lawyer a “cashier’s check” for deposit into the lawyer’s account, with instructions to wire the collected funds to the ex-wife’s account. By the time the lawyer discovers the cashier’s check was counterfeit, it’s too late — the unknown scam-artist is long gone with the wired funds from the lawyer’s account. These types of fraud activities are particularly busy before a major holiday.

There are many of these types of frauds that target lawyers, business people, and individuals. You should always be wary when someone you don’t know wants you to accept a check and then immediately send funds to some far-away place. The check may be bogus but your bank will credit your account (pending clearing) and you will be able to send the funds out. When the check is finally bounced by the system, your account will be over-drawn and you will be in trouble with your own bank.

These scams always prey on your own greed. You will get a part of the money they are sending and you have a check in hand. Few people give away money for nothing and quick pay-offs are rare. Don’t fall for these scams. Be on high alert at all times when online.