Houston lawyer Ted Tredennick says an alleged scammer targeted his law firm recently, but he caught the trick and he wants to warn other lawyers. Tredennick, partner in Thompson & Tredennick in Houston, says a person emailed him, identifying himself as chairman of Permanoid Ltd. in Manchester, England. The person wrote he was looking for local counsel to pursue a $1.5 million breach-of-contract claim against a real company, Kaman Industrial Technologies.
When Tredennick emailed back to request more details, the person sent an alleged $1.5 million contract-of-sale with Kaman for industrial supplies he claimed he never received, a string of email messages, and details of a $724,000 wire transfer he allegedly sent to Kaman.
Tredennick says he discovered the trickery when he called Kaman’s corporate headquarters and spoke with its vice president and general counsel, Glenn Messemer. Tredennick says Messemer told him the person’s claims were “bogus” and Tredennick was the sixth lawyer to call about the matter.
Eric Remmington, Kaman’s vice president of investor relations, returned a telephone message left for Messemer. He says he doesn’t know why the scam mentions Kaman, but notes it references the company’s nationwide industrial-parts distribution business, which has seven locations in Texas. Remmington says Kaman is investigating the scam, adding, “We don’t typically comment on that type of investigation.”
Tredennick says he thinks the scam won’t be successful because any good lawyer will learn the scenario is fake while making phone calls to examine the legitimacy of the claim.
“I’m assuming the scam is you tell them what your retainer is, and they send you a check — a bogus check. When you get it to cash it, and you put your account number, somehow they can do something nefarious with your account number and your signature,” says Tredennick.
John Sirman, web manager and strategic planning director for the State Bar of Texas, says he’s heard of similar schemes where the scammer’s goal is to send a check with the expectation a lawyer will deposit it and then disburse funds to someone. But after the disbursement, the lawyer learns the check was fake — no funds came through to the lawyer’s account — and she loses the disbursed funds.
-- Angela Morris