An Ontario firm notified us that they received an email from the purported Karina Clark looking to retain them with regards to a collecting overdue payments resulting from a separation agreement.
This is a classic bad cheque scam that presents as legal matter requiring the assistance of a lawyer. In this scam lawyers will be duped into wiring real funds from their trust accounts after depositing a fake cheque received as payment from the debtor (who is part of the fraud). See our Confirmed Fraud Page for more of an explanation of how these frauds work and to see other names associated with it. Our Fraud Fact Sheet lists the red flags of a bogus legal matter that is really a fraud.
Here is the initial email sent by the fraudster to the lawyer:
From: Karina Clark [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: December-16-14 5:05 AM
Subject: Contempt Petition
I am making an inquiry about possible representation to enforce terms of my dissolution agreement with my former husband. Please advise if you handle such case. I will also need a referral if this case is not within your line of practice.
Replying to the email brought this response:
hank you for your response to my email. I would have visited your office if I was in the Ontario but I live in Japan while my ex spouse Steven Clark who is a citizen of Canada lives in your jurisdiction. I and my ex spouse fell in love during His UN deployment visit to Japan 1995 and got married 19th of July, 1996, at Fukushima Family Court. He is a medical practitioner for the UN. Due to my hearing problem (Disability) it is difficult to talk to you on phone, would have loved to discuss this matter on phone, but I can read and write very well. If need be it to testify in the United State I will make myself available at that time.
I and my ex spouse agreed under a separation agreement incorporated, merged into and made part of the court order for a settlement of Child Support, Spouse Support and Medical Support of $1,036,570.00 USD he has only paid $350,500.00 February 18th, 2013 but still owing $686,070.00 and the stipulated time for the completion of payment May 17th,2013 has long elapsed.
This is the reason why I contacted your firm as there is already an agreement in place. Find Attached in PDF Court Order and Separation Agreement. Thus, I request your firm’s legal service to enforce the court order compelling him to remit balance owed me. Kindly send me a copy of your attorney-client retainer agreement and if the terms are acceptable I will sign so we can commence the process without delay, Immediately I receive the retainer agreement I will Sign and return.
How to handle a real or suspected fraud
If you have been targeted by any of these frauds, please forward any of the emails and supporting documents that you have received to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you suspect you are acting on a matter that might be a fraud, call LAWPRO at 1-800-410-1013 (416-598-5899). We will talk you through the common fraud scenarios we are seeing and help you spot red flags that may indicate you are being duped. This will help you ask appropriate questions of your client to determine if the matter is legitimate or not. If the matter you are acting on turns out to be a fraud and there is a potential claim, we will work with you to prevent the fraud and minimize potential claims costs.
What can you do to help put a stop to the fraud attempt? You can simply stop replying to the fraudster’s emails or inform them that you suspect fraud and will not act on the matter (or will take no further actions on the matter). You can report the fraudsters email addresses to the email hosting company. If you have a fraudulent cheque you can destroy it or send it to the fraud department of the financial institution, which may wish to see it. In Canada, you can report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
We are often asked if it is worthwhile to report the fraud attempt to the police in the hopes of helping catch the fraudsters. You can certainly report the fraud to your local or federal law enforcement agencies, but unfortunately it is often difficult, expensive and time consuming for them to attempt to shut down these online fraud perpetrators (though there are some successes).
If you have been successfully duped, please immediately notify LAWPRO as there may be a claim against you. Instructions on how to report a claim are here.
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Fraud Fact Sheet More fraud prevention information and resources are available on the practicePRO Fraud page, including the Fraud Fact Sheet, a handy reference for lawyers and law firm staff that describes the common frauds and the red flags that can help identify them.