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An international scammer has tried to fleece a Perth law firm of hundreds of thousands of dollars, sparking a police warning to the sector.

The firm was emailed in May by a supposed export company in China asking for representation to chase a $900,000 debt from an Australian company.

After exchanging preliminary documents, police said the scammer advised lawyers that the threat of legal action had led the Australian company to promise a payment.

The scammer told the laywers it had asked the debtor to pay the firm, and directed them to deposit the money into a trust account and wait for further instructions.

But the firm became suspicious when a $400,000 cheque arrived by courier two weeks later with the debtor listed as the “remitter”.

Major Fraud Squad detectives confirmed the cheque was sent from Canada and officers were now working with the Canadian Mounted Police’s anti-fraud taskforce.

Detective Sergeant Bernie Iriks said the scammer had not had any further contact with the law firm.

“Invariably, the law firm would have received a request from the scammer to draw against the cheque and remit funds to him resulting in a financial loss to the law firm when the cheque was eventually dishonoured,” Detective Iriks said.

“It is our experience that scammers have a run on a particular industry before moving on to their next scam, so the community needs to be vigilant. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

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