7Investigates: Attorney Theft Refunds

Now a story you’ll see on just one station. We found millions of dollars have been stolen from Massachusetts residents by dishonest lawyers, but Hank discovered how to get it back. How do you stake your claim? Hank Investigates.

Judy and her husband instantly fell in love with their dream house. So they sold their old home and their attorney put part of the profits in a special bank account.

When it came time to close the deal, the lawyer sent a check to cover the costs, and the couple got a shocking surprise.

Judy: “The check bounced.”
Hank: “It bounced?”
Judy: “It bounced.”

Hundreds of thousands of dollars of their money was gone. These court documents say their attorney “intentionally misused” it.

Judy: “I think it’s terrible.”

We found other Massachusetts residents have also lost money, money they were owed from personal injury cases, estates, wills, real estate deals and insurance settlements. In total: millions of dollars.

Hank: “All that money stolen?”
Attorney Karen O’Toole, General Counsel, Massachusetts Clients’ Security Board: “It’s all been stolen.”

But what Judy and victims like her didn’t know, there’s a way to get that money back.

“It probably is the best kept hidden secret in the legal profession,” said Attorney James E. McCall.

Here’s that secret: The Clients’ Security Board. It’s an organization set up to reimburse people whose lawyers stole from them. The money comes out of the fee all lawyers pay to be a member of the bar.

“We really restore people’s faith in the law and in lawyers,” O’Toole said.

So what do you do if you think you are a victim of a dishonest attorney? File a claim with the Board, they’ll investigate and you could get your money back. That’s what Judy did and she already received a full refund.

Judy: “It rescued me 100 percent.”

And don’t worry you may have waited too long. There’s no time limit for filing a claim, and you could get your money back within a year.

For more information about the Massachusetts Clients’ Security Board or to file a claim, go to https://www.masscsb.org.

For the Board to act on a claim an attorney must be:

• Disbarred
• Suspended indefinitely or for a fixed period
• Resigned as a disciplinary sanction
• Deceased

To check on the status of a lawyer go to https://www.massbbo.org and search in the “Look Up An Attorney” box.

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