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Date First Reported: December 2010

Primary Name Associated: Peggy Higashi

Description of Potential Fraud:

fraud-warning

From late November through January 2011 several Ontario firms have reported receiving the email reproduced below.

Note the fraud red flags: it is generically addressed; the sender’s email address and display names do not match; and the email address that replies are requested to be sent to is yet another different address.

Other firms received a version of the email that was identical to the message below except for having a subject line that was “Legal Assistance”; came from Castrén Hannele at the [email protected] address; and requested that replies go to:

[email protected] or [email protected]

This message is identical (excepting the subject line) to the initial contact message other lawyers have received recently from the purported Kathy Cheung and Beverly Kawashima.

The message several firms received was as follows:


From: Peggy Higashi [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 8:53 AM
Subject: Dear Counsel

Dear Counsel,

My name is Peggy Higashi. I am contacting your firm in regards to a
divorce settlement with my ex husband Landscott Higashi who resides in
your jurisdiction.

I am currently on assignment in S.Korea. We had an out of court agreement
(Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay $648,450.00 plus legal fees.
He has only paid me $148,000 since.

I am hereby seeking your firm`s assistance in collecting the balance from
him. He has agreed already to pay me the balance but it is my belief that
a Law firm like yours is needed to help me collect/enforce payment from my
ex-husband or litigate this matter if he fails to pay as promised.
please email me through this email; [email protected]

Your’s truly,
Peggy Higashi

At least one firm received this message:


From: Peggy Higashi [mailto:[email protected]]
Dear [First Name] [Last Name]

Thanks for your email.

I need you to please intercede for me as I am Currently am living in South Korea for an assignment and Higashi live in Georgia.I tried calling a couple of times and with the time difference(+13hrs EST) it is a little bit difficult to reach you.

We agreed under this Collaborative Law Agreement for a one time cash settlement of $648,450.00 usd to his credit,he has paid me $148,000.00 usd but still owing $500,450.00 usd. He is aware of my intention to seek legal actions.

I expect this to be a non-litigation matter.I have already advised him I am planning on retaining your firm. If possible please send me a retainer agreement so that we can proceed. Also send me the payment information of your firm just in case my ex-husband wants to make the full payment he owes me without further delays or possible litigation.

Please find attached the documents covering this matter and do proceed and send me your retainer agreement to preview and execute.

Regards,
Peggy Higashi

Copies of the documents provided in support of this fraud included a copy of a Peggy Higashi Agreement, Decree of Divorce – Higashi, and an Settlement Agreement. Lawyers Dykes and Arcadier are named as representing the parties in both agreements. See the AvoidAClaim blog post on Provincial, Territorial and US State Lawyer Licensing Databases to crosscheck if a real lawyer that was in good standing was involved in a matter you are dealing with.

If you have been targeted by this fraud, please forward any of the emails you have received to [email protected].

Call LAWPRO at 1-800-410-1013 (416-598-5899) if you suspect you are acting on a matter that appears like it might be a fraud. 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. In the event the matter you are acting is a fraud and there is a potential claim, we will work with you to prevent the fraud and minimize potential claims costs.

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.

Further fraud prevention information and resources are available on the practicePRO Fraud page (www.practicepro.ca/fraud), 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.

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