Between May and July more than 75 lawyers in Ontario and elsewhere (in the US in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming; and elsewhere in the world from Australia, Jordan and the Marshall Islands) have reported receiving emails similar to the one below from the purported Elizabeth Nakamura.
These are similar to past divorce and collaborative family law fraud attempts we have seen from such names as Peggy Higashi, Beverly Kawashima, and Rita Takahashi. For a full list of names associated with this type of fraud see Avoid a Claim’s Confirmed Frauds page.
An example of the nearly identical messages appears below, along with examples of the documentation provided. Different email addresses are used, including:
My name is Elizabeth Nakamura. I am contacting your firm in regards to
enforcement/collection or possible litigation of divorce settlement with
my ex husband Collins Nakamura who resides in your jurisdiction. If you are
in the position to represent me at the moment kindly advise immediately.
If you have been targeted by this fraud, please forward any of the emails you have received to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If you are a LAWPRO insured, please 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.