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Date First Reported: July 2011

Primary Name Associated: Eiko Akaba

Description of Potential Fraud:

fraud-warning

An Ontario lawyer advised us today that she has received an initial contact email message based on this scam where the fraudster is using a name we have not seen before: Eiko Akaba. The initial contact message suggests a payment is owed further to a collaborative law agreement and it is identical to those used in previous fraud attempts we have seen by: Zaira Hoshiko, Adrian Benavides, Anita Bell, Kathy Cheung, Peggy Higashi, Beverly Kawashima, and others. A full list is here.

Over the last several months, hundreds of lawyers from across North American have reported to us that they received various versions of this message. The reports to us are the tip of the iceberg – clearly thousands are being targeted. These fraudsters will actively respond to communications, sign retainer agreements (but not pay retainers as promised), provided identity documents and other supporting documentation, including copies of the collaborative agreement, a payment agreement and ultimately a fake cheque or bank draft. See the above posts for samples of these documents. One Ontario lawyer was successfully duped by this fraud. For a more detailed description on how these bad cheque scams work see this earlier AvoidAClaim post.

Here is a copy of the latest initial contact message:

From: Eiko Akaba [email protected]
Sent: July 6, 2011 12:34 PM
To: Lawyer Name
Subject: Counsel Assistance

Dear Counsel,
My name is Eiko Akaba. I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement with my ex husband Andrew Richardson who resides in your country. I currently reside in Japan, We had an out of court agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay me the sum of $875,000.00 plus legal fees of which He has only paid me $251,000.00.

I am hereby seeking your firm`s assistance in collecting the balance from him or litigate this matter if he fails to pay as promised.

If you are in the position to represent my interest in this matter, kindly advice immediately.

Reply to to my personal email:[email protected]

Yours Faithfully,

Eiko Akaba.

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 [email protected]

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.

If you have been successfully duped, please immediately notify LAWPRO as there may be a claim against you.

For more immediate updates on fraud and claims prevention, subscribe to the email or RSS feed updates from LAWPRO’s AvoidAClaim blog.

Fraud Fact SheetMore 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.