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Date First Reported: March 2011

Primary Name Associated: Anita Bell

Description of Potential Fraud:

fraud-warning

An Ontario lawyer advised us that he has exchanged a number of email messages based on the collaborative law agreement scam where the fraudster is using a new name: Anita Bell. Looks like there is a new round of these frauds using new names such as Dennis Luo Nicholas , Adrian Benavides and Gloria Lee. 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 Kathy Cheung, Peggy Higashi, Beverly Kawashima, Jennifer Wong and Zaira Hoshiko.

Over the last several months, hundreds of lawyers from across North American have reported to us that they received various versions of these messages. 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 transcript of the emails to and from the targeted lawyer after the initial contact email:


From Anita Bell – [email protected]

Thank you for your time and concern, I am writing in regards to your previous email. We agreed under this law Agreement for a cash settlement of $748,450.00 USD, and to his credit, he paid me $150,000.00 USD but still owing $598,450.00 USD. I will be pleased to provide further information on this matter on request and I have already advised him I am planning on retaining your firm.The fee however is not a problem.
Please do send me your retainer form as to have an agreement with your firm. Once I receive a retainer from your firm, I will go through the terms and condition and I will get back to you within the next couple of days. For the remittance of the initial fee, Please send me the name and address you want the payment of retainer agreement issued to. Thank you and have a pleasant day.

Sincerely,
Anita Bell.


Let me have a look tomorrow Anita.


Dear Counsel
I tried calling a couple of times and with the time difference(+13hrs EST) it is a little bit difficult to guage the best time to reach you vice versa. I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement with my ex husband who resides in your jurisdiction. I am currently on assignment in Japan. We had an out of court Agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement).
Please i want you to get back to me on what to do next in this case.
I hope to hear from you asap.
Your’s truly ,
Anita Bell


Hi Anita
I read the collaborative agreement. I would like to review this matter with you and get more info.

Please send me a narrative outlining the pertinent details of your relationship and breakdown.

Date of marriage, date of separation, copies of any other agreements, details re children of the marriage, re incomes of the parties etc. Assets at the time of separation and the time of entering into the collab agreement etc.

Where was the agreement signed? where did the parties live then? Why did your hus agree to pay that large sum of $$$ in the participation agreement before negotiations even took place?

what was the payment for?

were there any court proceedings etc.
In short pls give me your pertinent info along with your contact info.

My rate is $350/hour + hst (13%) + disbursements. I shall require a retainer of $1000 at this time to review the matter.


Dear Counsel,

Thank for your mail, we where marriage 25-02-1986 and separation 07-15-2008
will have 3 children, and also he don’t asset me, will just go on Collaborative Agreement for a cash settlement of $748,450.00 USD, and to his credit, he paid me $150,000.00 USD but still owing $598,450.00 USD. in Tokyo Japan, will live in Japan.
We mutually agreed under a Collaborative Participation Law Agreement AFTER our divorce for him to compensate me in cash under the terms of the agreement so that I can settle down and to his credit; he paid me a faction of the agreed amount.
Here is my contact address below,
5-8-10 MINAMI AZABU
MINATO-KU TOKYO
106-0047
JAPAN

Please do send me your retainer form as to have an agreement with your firm or you don’t have ?. Once I receive a retainer from your firm, I will go through the terms and condition. s. For the remittance of the initial fee. I will get back to you asap.
Regards,
Anita Bell


Hi Anita

The retainer agreement is simple. My fees are $350/hour + HST (tax) + dissbursements. You can transmit funds as per my previous message.

What is your husband’s address?

I still do not understand how the settlement sum ended up in the agreement before the collaboration work started. What is the breakdown of the settlement? What does it involve? Where was the agreement entered into? where did you each live at the time? etc Is there a divorce judgment? do you have a copy? etc.


I am writing you regarding the payment i have to made to your firm, i have neva paid money out side my country before this is the first time,so told my friend the information which you gave to me for the transfer of the funds to your firm, please you have to send me your firm address so that i can get back to you asap. check your bank info below.


You have my info from the source you found me on.  I am not doing anymore until I receive funds.

The fraudster than introduces the ‘ex husband’ into the exchange!


After informing my Ex Naoki Kazuo that you meant be contacting him soonest, he then wrote back saying he will send a Cheque for half of what owe to me, which I feel inclined to grant or maintain a decent relationship, giving him till weekend to produce the monies and remit payment.
 
Nonetheless, after the grace time expires, full measures must be initiated against Naoki. Therefore, till the time granting expires, I will not make contact to Naoki, unless advised by you, to do so. Also, if the payment is send by Naoki, that will be solely controlled by you as my attorney for any and all payment that will be made to and secured in your trust account.  Thank you for your professional assistance, I await your acknowledgment of this email immediately.
 
Sincerely,
Anita Bell
 
N.B
===
Below is the mail between Mr.Naoki Kazuo and I.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Akaya Wang
Date: Wed, Mar 31, 2011 at 6:46 AM
Subject: Re: Reminder
To: Anita Bell

Hi Anita,
 
                I told you why I have not paid you the balance of the money, the business I invested in took longer than I had planned and things have been little bit slow for me. But promise I will start paying by instalments. So please call off this whole lawyer stuff, and I do not want any legal litigation against me. Hope you have not forgotten we have kids between us? I behave and maintain a good name here in Nice, and the last thing I want is lawyers calling me day and night regarding this matter. Common, despite that I owe you, we are not enemies. I do not want to talk to no lawyer, I will send a check for half of what I owe to you. How are my kids doing? extend my greetings to them. And again, I did not forget Chongan’s birthday, promised I will make it up to her.
 
Regards,
Naoki.


Hi Anita
I hope you will get your ex’s  money as promised.  That would be great.
And happy birthday to Chongan.

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

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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.