Collaborative Law Agreement Scam by Adrian Benavides [updated March 2012]
An Ontario lawyer advised us today that he has received an initial contact email message based on this scam where the fraudster is using a new name: Adrian Benavides (or Gloria Lee or Dennis Luo Nicholas or Anita Bell). This 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 Kathy Cheung, Peggy Higashi, Beverly Kawashima, Jennifer Wong and Zaira Hoshiko.
This is initial contact message from this latest attempt:
From Adrian Benavides – firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Adrian Benavides. I’m contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement with my ex-husband (Miguel de Benavides) who resides in your jurisdiction. I am currently on assignment in South Korea; we had an outof court, Agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay $468,450.59 plus legal fees, He has only paid me $44,000.
I am hereby seeking your firm to assist 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 will be of assistance in collecting payment from my ex-husband or litigate if he fails to pay as promised.
A lawyer who replied received this response, fake documentation, and then a counterfeit cheque:
Thanks for your interest in my case, I’ will attached copy of our outof court agreement at your request.
Miguel is aware of my intention to seek legal actions .The lawyer that helped me with the matter earlier is retired.
I’m in South Korea for treatment, we married 12 years ago and divorce finally on June 2009. Miguel de Benavides has recently relocated temporarily from Michigan to UK (i think he is setting up a business there) his email is [ email@example.com ] Seems willing to make payment, Just insisted that he’ll rather pay an attorney or a collection agent.
I will be pleased if we could settle this without the troubles of litigation. I have advised my ex-husband that I am already in the process of retaining your services to achieve a final closure of this over-delayed payments.
Please send me an contingency agreement. /retainer form so we can proceed.
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.
If you have been successfully duped, please immediately notify LAWPRO as there may be a claim against you.
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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.