The Office of Professional Regulation has been advised that two trust accounts maintained by Iowa attorneys recently were the target of theft by electronic funds transfer (EFT) or automated clearing house (ACH) withdrawal. Although full details are not yet available regarding the technique used by the thieves, the general pattern reportedly used was to make very small deposits electronically over a space of a few days, to see if the deposits would be accepted without response. When no response to the deposits occurred, the thieves followed up with a short series of electronic withdrawals, culminating in an unauthorized withdrawal well into five figures.
Based on the report of theft from these two trust accounts, the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) recommends that Iowa attorneys be vigilant regarding transactions in their trust account. Daily monitoring, at a minimum, is appropriate. Unauthorized activity should be reported immediately to the depository bank for response, which may include closure of the account and opening of a new trust account.