Monday, July 16, 2018

E-Filing Used for Theft and Some Remediation Ideas

Thanks to a message via ImageSoft, we learned of a Florida Bar News article describing how a law office manager used the system to “file papers in a foreclosure case” and then took $130,000 that was “left over after the foreclosure sale”.  We discuss the actions taken by the E-Filing Authority and more below…


The article notes, correctly in my opinion, that the same fraud could have been perpetrated in a paper court process just as easily.  That said, Florida is taking the following action following this event including:

  • Nonlawyer law firm administrators will not be allowed to have their own electronic filing accounts
  • The account can only be created by a Florida Bar member
  • Multiple accounts are still allowed but will be more closely checked by portal employees.

I would also propose some additional ideas that could be considered to combat this kind of activity in the future.  Let's call it the “sunshine strategy” (very appropriate for Florida I might add).  My definition of sunshine includes strategies the credit card companies have done to reduce fraud in their systems. 

First, the courts should post this type of activity in the case record along with opt-in electronic notice (text message) when such a filing is made.  For example, I recently made a large purchase on a credit card where I had placed a threshold amount for notification to my e-mail.  This is possible with e-filing.

Second, a notice could trigger a second approval (signature) to be registered before the filing finalized in the clerk’s office.  This might be part of a form or the e-filing subject Q&A interface.  But better, Florida has an extensive library of court forms that are available online.  The filing of specific forms (that include identifiers) could trigger the second approval for example.

Third, for the high-tech AI lovers out there, something like the predictive indicator system that was discussed at the 2016 E-Courts Conference session on the Minnesota and Texas guardianship abuse programs is possible.  The video of the session is available at and the NCSC’s website on the subject is located at

Last, E-filing is electronic data.  We have the tools to work with the information.

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