[Updated Oct 2013]
We had seen several messages in recent months from Kazuo Miyoko that were similar to other recent collaborative law agreement scams we’ve made lawyers aware of. For the full list of these kinds of scams see our Confirmed Fraud page.
As in others, the initial contact message suggests a payment is owed further to a collaborative law agreement. 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 the initial message one lawyer received:
Date: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 8:47 AM
My name is Kazuo Miyoko. I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce
settlement (Collaborative Law Agreement) with my ex husband Naoki Kazuo who
resides in your jurisdiction.Please contact me via email@example.com
for more info.
Upon responding, another lawyer received this reply:
Good day to you and thank you for your response to my inquiry. Currently am living in South Korea for an assignment. 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. We agreed under this Collaborative Law Agreement for a one time cash settlement of $648,450.00 to his credit, he has paid me $148,000.00 but still owing $500,450.00 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 payment 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
In another variation of this scam the initial email appears to come from a lawyer on behalf of Ms. Kazuo:
Message from Toshiko Hamayotsu
To: Subject: Hello
My client name is Mrs Miyoko Kazuo. I need your help in regards to a divorce settlement with her ex husband Naoki Kazuo who resides in your jurisdiction. I am currently on assignment in S.Korea. We had an out of court agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay $648,450.00 plus legal fees. He has only paid me $148,000 since.
I am hereby seeking your firm`s assistance in collecting the balance from him. He has agreed already to pay my client the balance but it is my belief that a Law firm like yours is needed to help me collect/enforce payment from her ex-husband or litigate this matter if he fails to pay as promised.
I would love to discuses this further because of the time difference between Asia and America we prefer communication via email.
Toshiko Hamayotsu Attorney-At-Law
Hamayotsu & Hamayotsu
4-7, Kojimachi 4-chome Chiyoda-ku
Here are the fraudulent documents that the lawyers received (click on them to enlarge):
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.
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.