Attorney Censured for Following Client Instructions, Facilitating Illegal Transfers in Furtherance of Fraud

A Rhode Island attorney has been censured after his following a client's instructions facilitated the illegal transfer of funds to offshore accounts.

ABA Journal has the details:

[The attorney] cooperated with authorities after learning in October 2012 that the client was using the money transfers to defraud other individuals, according to the public censure order by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. But he failed to perform adequate due diligence before making the money transfers, violating an ethics rule requiring lawyers to hold funds of others “with the care required of a professional fiduciary,” the court said.


The scammer client had contacted DeCiccio by email after the lawyer had marketed himself as an “attorney pay master” who would act as an escrow agent for commodities brokers, holding funds until receiving confirmation that they had been earned and could be disbursed. DeCiccio concluded the client was a legitimate broker after a “cursory investigation” by Internet, the court said. “We note that the Internet can be a source of useful information,” the court said in a footnote. “Unfortunately, not everything on the Internet is reliable.”

Without inquiring as to the source of the client’s funds, DeCiccio followed his client’s instructions and transferred the money to accounts around the world, including the Cook Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He earned more than $68,000 in commission in slightly over a month for his services handling $3.4 million in deposits.

The censure order can be found here.