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 new name: Gloria Lee. Looks like there is a new round of these frauds using new names such as Dennis Luo Nicholas , Adrian Benavides, and Anita Bell.. 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:
Subject: 28th Feb 2011
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2011 22:35:49 +0000
From: Gloria Lee
I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement with my ex husband David Lee who resides in your jurisdiction. We had an out of courtagreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay certain amount, but, he has only paid me a small amount. Hence, I need your firm`s assistance to
collect the balance from him.
Gloria Lee email@example.com
Dear Ms. Lee:
Where did your divorce occur and when? Does he owe you back child support, back spousal maintenance, or a property settlement? What amount does he owe to you and for how long has it been due?
Under the collaborative agreement, you should return to your collaborative attorneys to seek payment from your ex-husband through the collaborative process, if he is willing to cooperate.
Attorney at Law
I thank you for your prompt response. Currently am living in South Korea for an assignment and David Lee lives in your jurisdiction Charles County . I tried calling a couple of times and with the time difference(+13hrs EST) it is a little bit difficult to gauge the best time to reach you vice verse. We agreed under this Collaborative Law Agreement for a one time cash settlement of $681,500.00 usd to his credit, he has paid me $181,000.00 usd but still owing $500,500.00 usd. He is aware of my intention to seek legal actions. I will be pleased to provide further information on this matter on request. 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 without further delays or possible litigation. Thank you and have a pleasant day.
ADDRESS: RM 206,357 -33, SHINDANG – DONG, CHUNG -GU, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
TELEPHONE NUMBER : +81424844615
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.