WATCH OUT FOR INTERNET SCAMS

By Daniel A. Higson

On Nov. 15, 2011, I received an email from Bruce Shattock, president of S & J Boring, Inc., a company located in Livonia, Mich., requesting my legal assistance on a possible litigation matter involving Turnkey Tool Company of Camarillo.

On Nov. 20, 2011 I responded to the email asking for the particulars regarding the representation. On Nov. 21, 2011, Mr. Shattock emailed back indicating his company had sold products to Turnkey Tool Company and was owed $385,750. The email went on to say that S & J Boring, Inc. had maintained a good relationship with Turnkey Tool Company over the past few years and would like to maintain that relationship after collection of outstanding sums owed. Mr. Shattock asked me to do a conflicts check to see if I could represent S & J Boring, Inc. in a collection matter against Turnkey Tool Company.

On. Nov. 22, 2011, I emailed Mr. Shattock, advising him that my firm did not have a conflict regarding handling the matter against Turnkey Tool Company. Mr. Shattock emailed back and asked me to then run a conflicts check on the principal owner of Turnkey Tool, a Mr. Tim Pyle. I did so and had no conflict. Mr. Shattock then requested I send him a retainer agreement, which I did on Nov. 28, 2011. In this agreement, I requested a $1000 retainer. Mr. Shattock, as president of S & J Boring Inc. signed the agreement on Dec. 2, 2011 and mailed it back to me with a note to say that his company’s $1000 retainer check would soon follow.

On Dec. 5, 2011, I received the email from Mr. Shattock indicating he had been in communication with Mr. Pyle and anticipated Turnkey Tool Company making a partial payment in the future. On or about Dec. 27, 2011, I received a letter dated Dec. 2, 2011, from Tim Pyle, president of Turnkey Tool Company enclosing a certified check in the sum of $198,750 drawn on Citibank of New York, New York. The official check was made payable to the Law Offices of Daniel A. Higson. I contacted Tim Pyle of Turnkey Tool Company and he knew nothing about Bruce Shattock, S & J Boring, Inc., or sending me a certified check for $198,750.

I took the official check to my banker at First Bank of Ventura who contacted a local Citibank branch office. It was determined that the official check was a counterfeit. The Citibank representative indicated that, in normal banking practices, it would take 45-60 days for Citibank to verify that the check was counterfeit. First Bank indicated that had I deposited the check in my attorney trust account, First Bank would have put a hold on the check for nine days. Thereafter I could write a check out of my trust account to S & J Boring, Inc. for $198,750, which sum First Bank would have cleared.

Thereafter, when First Bank learned the $198,750 check which I deposited was counterfeit, then I would be responsible to cover this check, as I impliedly warranted that it was valid by depositing it into my trust account. I read David Edsell’s article in CITATIONS describing an Internet scam wherein the attorney was the intended victim. It was this article that made me suspicious when I received the $198,750 check. I hope this helps other attorneys avoid being victims of scams currently being perpetrated over the Internet.

Daniel A. Higson has an office in Ventura and is a Certified Specialist in Bankruptcy Law and may be contacted at higsonatty@aol.com

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