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Legal scam.

It looks like even the most experienced law firms can fall victim to a scam.

Watts Donovan & Tilley P.A. of Little Rock lost about $100,000 in an elaborate forgery scheme, according to a lawsuit it filed last month.

The trouble for the litigators started in March 2014 when it retained someone "representing himself as Bernard Stillwell, an architect based in London, England," according to the firm's lawsuit, now in U.S. District Court in Little Rock.

WDT was hired to collect professional fees allegedly owed to Stillwell by Arkansans.

On April Fool's Day 2014, the firm received a $97,588 cashier's check made out to WDT from one of the alleged debtors.

The law firm deposited the check. The man who said he was Stillwell called and emailed and told the firm where it could wire the money, which the firm did.

Then the bank delivered the bad news: the cashier's check was a forgery. And the firm was liable to the bank for the amount of the transfer.

WDT filed a claim with its insurance carrier, Valley Forge Insurance Co. of Chicago, to recover the money. But Valley Forge denied the claim.

The law firm sued for the money lost in the scam plus other damages.

Attorney David Donovan, who filed the case for the firm, declined to comment on the case.

Valley Forge filed its answer and listed nearly two dozen reasons why the case should be dismissed. "To the extent the check at issue was not made by Plaintiff, there is no coverage for this claim," Valley Forge said in its response. It is being represented by Stephen Lancaster of Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP of Little Rock.

Lancaster declined to comment.

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Title Annotation:Whispers; Watts Donovan & Tilley P.A.
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Feb 8, 2016
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