Since February of 2011, over 200 lawyers from across North America reported to us an attempted family law agreement collection scam by the purported Zaira (or Rika) Jyong Hoshiko. From the very large number of reports we have received, it appears that hundreds or even thousands of lawyers are being targeted by this bad cheque scam. (For details on how these bad cheque scams work see this earlier AvoidAClaim post)
The email messages, the collaborative law agreement and the payment agreements that are being provided are identical to those used in previous fraud attempts we have seen by the purported Kathy Cheung and Peggy Higashi.
Updated Oct 2013: Toronto police are looking for additional information from anyone who has received this scam and come across the name “Joe Mathewson” in any of the responses from the fraudsters. Click here for more details
An example of the initial contact (some of which are personally addressed to the lawyer) and the follow-ups appear below, as well as a copy of the ID provided and copies of the other supporting documents sent by the fraudster, including a forged cheque:
From: Zaira Hoshiko
Subject: I am contacting your firm to an enforcement of divorce issue either via litigation or non-litigations btw my ex and I. Please advice
Date: Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 3:19 PM
Hoshiko has used several email addresses including: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
From: Zaira Hoshiko
Subject: Thank You
Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 12:15 PM
Thank you so much for your email.
Its always very hard to be able to ascertain when best to call from here, we are 1300hrs EST ahead of you and this is a big barrier toward achieving a successful conference call. If it may pleased you to know, in my humbly suggest we communicate via email while I figure out when best to reach on phone due the course of this representation
My Husband and I had an out of court agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay $950,500.00 plus legal fees. He has only paid me $251,500.00 since; I am hereby seeking your firm’s assistance 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 is needed to help me collect/enforce payment from my ex-husband Allen Hoshiko or litigate this matter if he fails to pay as promised. My ex husband Allen Hoshiko still lives in your jurisdiction while I am presently working in South Korea.
I will be pleased to provide further information on this matter on request. I expect this to be a non-litigation matter as I have already notified him I am planning on retaining your firm service. Please send me an agreement/ retainer form under a flexible fee arrangement so I can have a preview.
Collaborative agreement attached
Address:Apt 206,357 -33,
Shindang- Dong Chung, Seoul
From: Zaira Hoshiko [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 7:32 AM
Subject: Re: Enforcement
I thank you for your prompt response. Currently am living in South Korea for an assignment and Allen Hoshiko live in Boca Raton, Florida. 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 attached to this mail for a one time cash settlement of $950,500.00 usd to his credit, he has paid me $251,500.00 usd but still owing $699,000.00 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 have already advised him I am planning on retaining your firm. If possible please send me a retainer agreement so that we can proceed. Thank you and have a pleasant day.
ADDRESS: RM 108,138-859 Hongjin Bldg. #311, Ogeum-dong 134-1, Songpa-gu,Seoul, South Korea.
If you have been targeted by this fraud, please forward any of the emails you have received to email@example.com.
Call LAWPRO (if you are an Ontario lawyer) 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.
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