Fake Law Firm Alert – Lawman & Associates
The Law Society of Alberta (the Law Society) wants to alert the public and Alberta lawyers about a business, “Lawman & Associates”, purporting to be a law firm. The business operates a website at https://lawmanslaw.ca. The individuals associated with the business are falsely holding themselves as members of the Law Society and are offering legal services.
The personal information and photographs used on the “Our People” section of the “Lawman & Associates” website are the names of real Alberta lawyers, but the Law Society has confirmed that the lawyers listed are not associated with the business and the information is being used without their permission.
The Law Society also obtained an Advance Fee letter associated with the website which was purported to be written by an Alberta lawyer. The letter indicated there was an unclaimed life insurance payout available to the recipients and “the Alberta lawyer” wanted to share 90 per cent of the funds with the recipients with 10 per cent going to charity. The Law Society has received other reports of similar letters sent from “Lawman & Associates”.
The fraudulent website was reported to the website hosting provider in August and we were informed the matter would be investigated. Periodic checks through September and October reveal that the “Lawman & Associates” website is still fully operational.
Some of the impacted lawyers have contacted local law enforcement, but without a suspect and this likely being an online scam, there is little action that can be taken other than raising awareness.
Actions to be taken by lawyers and law firms
Lawyers, law firms and staff are often the targets of fraud, which is a growing problem in Alberta. Many of these schemes are elaborate, with fraudsters going to great lengths to attempt to appear legitimate. Lawyers and staff should watch for suspicious emails and be skeptical in providing too much information, especially if someone is trying to collect information about the law firm, or if they are seeking personal or financial information.
To report suspicious or potentially fraudulent activity of which your colleagues and staff should be aware, please send an email to the ALIAlert mailbox. To review previous ALIAAlerts, visit the website.
Other steps that lawyers and law firms can take is to report these types of activities to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or post a link to this information on their own law firm websites.
Actions to be taken by the public
Fraudsters are going to great lengths to make their schemes seem legitimate like using a fake website and listing the names of real lawyers. Although there is no way to know what the next scam will look like, most demonstrate common patterns that if identified, can help prevent fraud and loss. To learn more about the red flags to look for, read this article.
Also, before retaining a lawyer, make sure they are an active member of the Law Society of Alberta. This can be done by conducting a search through the Law Society of Alberta’s Lawyer Directory or by emailing the Law Society’s Customer Service team.