Richard T. Howell Jr. is a Houston lawyer who got scammed by some Nigerians working out of an Internet cafe. He is speaking out, presumably to warn other lawyers with bad judgment not to send hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to complete strangers. He and Gregory Bartko should start giving CLEs.
As is the case with most "victims" of financial frauds, Howell's greed did the thinking for him:
Howell says that with a 33.3 percent fee, the prospect of collecting $3.6 million in unpaid invoices for the client was a big lure. "To me, it sounded like it could be a potentially lucrative client from Japan," Howell says.
I, too, would like to make $1.2 million for doing little work. Honest work that pays so well is hard to find. There is no easy, honest money.
The story, however, tries to make it appear that the scam is sophisticated:
The scam is not sophisticated. Basically, some fake business sends a lawyer an e-mail saying they will pay fabulous sums of money for some simple collections work. I got one such e-mail. Lawyers who think they can make six or seven figures for a few hours of work, reply.
Here is why those lawyers are stupid. Let's say a foreign company is promising me treasure chests full of gold bullion. I'm not going to sit on my ass in the United States. I'll pay them the courtesy of a personal visit. It's worth spending $10,000 on a business trip for six or seven figures worth of work. I would trip over myself getting to the airport to visit anyone who wants to give me fabulous riches. I'd even fly to Dubai.
Yet none of the lawyers caught up in these Nigerian scams did any diligence. They received an e-mail promising them big money. That was good enough for them. They didn't make a personal visit. They just started depositing checks. Are you kidding me?
If you send money to Nigerians, you are either a moron or a greedy lout - or both. You deserve no sympathy. Moreover, rational clients most certainly should not hire you.
Lawyers are valued not just for their legal training, but for their judgment. An attorney is a lawyer and counselor. A good lawyer can answer not just, "Is this legal," but also, "What should I do?"
Would you ask, "What should I do," of anyone scammed by a Nigerian? I might ask, just for kicks. But I sure as Hades wouldn't value the answer.