So Much For "Due Diligence…"

There’s an old aphorism that says you can’t con an honest man. It’s not 100% true, but it is true that most confidence games are based on the greed and dishonesty of the mark. The target thinks he’s getting something for nothing, and instead gets nothing for something.

Those words of wisdom fell on deaf ears when it came to a certain New Hampshire lawyer.

Said attorney got taken by an international scam. He was contacted by an alleged Chinese company, who said they wanted him to manage some of their accounts. They sent him a certified check, along with detailed instructions on how to disburse it (after getting his cut). The check arrived, he deposited it, sent out the required payments, and patted himself on the back for his good fortune.

Until it turned out the certified check was a forgery, and he was left holding the bag for almost a quarter of a million dollars.

Another attorney also nibbled at the bait, but didn’t bite. He took the money, sat on it, and contacted the reputed attorney for the people supposed to get the money. That lawyer didn’t know a damned thing about the deal, so when that certified check also turned out to be bogus, no harm was done.

I feel I ought to be surprised that a lawyer — a highly-educated person who ought to be used to dealing with people at their worst — fell for this scam, but I’m not. It’s been my experience that there are a lot of people who are too highly educated — the acquisition of knowledge seems to be at the expense of their common sense.

I also don’t feel quite as sympathetic for the victim here. A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money, and it’s now in the pockets of real scumbags. But the lawyer in question figured they had stumbled into a sweet, sweet deal they hadn’t earned, and… well, it’s a lawyer. It’s not like a real human being was ripped off.

But it’s a good reminder to the rest of us. There are people out there looking to give money away, just like there are teenagers looking to have sex with older men and multi-level marketers who want to let you in on the latest guaranteed money-making engine.

But for every one of them, there’s a zillion more fakers out there.

No charge for the lesson, Counselor. You’ve already paid for it.

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