For Marlane Cochlin, it was just too much to bear. She had just lost her husband in a tragic industrial accident near Fort Wayne, Indiana. Now, representatives of her husband's employer were about to pay her a visit, presumably to discuss a settlement. She needed a lawyer.
"I had never had anything to do with an attorney. I knew nothing about it," she told CNBC's "American Greed."
So she turned to the resource most people use to find legal help: word of mouth. In this case, that word came from a neighbor.
"He came down the street right away and he told me that very night that Cory was killed, 'I will get in touch with my attorney.'"
That attorney recommended a second attorney, who suggested bringing in a truly big gun: Indianapolis "super lawyer" William Conour, who readily took the case.
Conour is now serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges he scammed $6.5 million from clients, including Cochlin, using their settlement money to fund his lavish lifestyle.
Cochlin, who has medical issues of her own and today is barely making ends meet, says she believed she was being careful in choosing her legal representation.
"I thought I had it covered," she tells "American Greed." "I'm sure my attorney thought so when he brought Bill Conour onto the case. He said I know him. I've known him for years. He's a good guy. So if an attorney can fool an attorney and be doing this, we have no hope."