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Commercial debt collection scam involving real (stolen) funds, fake “McHugh Law Firm”, and the names Habib Al Moosa and Maqsood Sajid Properties

July 29, 2013 By: FraudInfo Category: Confirmed frauds

An Ontario firm notified us that they received an email from the purported Habib Al Moosa, representing Maqsood Sajid Properties in Dubai, looking to retain them with regards to a commercial debt collection.

This is a classic bad cheque scam that presents as legal matter requiring the assistance of a lawyer. In this scam lawyers will be duped into wiring real funds from their trust accounts after depositing a fake cheque received as payment from the debtor (who is part of the fraud).

What sets this fraud attempt apart from others we have seen is that it involves the transfer of real funds for a retainer payment, and the use of a fake Ontario firm on the debtor side to lend the scam legitimacy. The funds were apparently stolen from a hacked Bahamian company’s bank account and wired directly to the firm. The fraudsters then attempted to have the portion of the funds above what was required for the retainer redirected to other accounts. Fortunately the banks were alerted to the theft and the money was returned.

The fake Ontario lawyer and firm representing the purported debtor company, Twin Eagle Properties, are Anthony Newtone and McHugh Law Firm. The name and contact details are the same as were used in another debt collection scam, and also very similar to “Blair Hubbard McHugh“, another firm name we saw recently. There is a real Ontario firm at the address the fraudsters have used, but the name and contact information have been altered.

See our Confirmed Fraud Page for more of an explanation of how these frauds work and to see other names associated with it. Our Fraud Fact Sheet lists the red flags of a bogus legal matter that is really a fraud.

Here is the initial email from the fraudsters, and subsequent email sent by the fake Ontario firm indicating their client’s willingness to settle:

From: Habib Al Moosa [mailto:habib.almoosa@hama-lawfirm.com]
Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 12:25 PM
To: {ATTORNEY NAME}
Subject: Request for Representation

Dear Counsel,

First of all, this is a genuine request for representation for my client who is based in the Dubai, United Arab Emirate and not a scam. I am a registered lawyer and not one of those chalatants who continue to take lawyers for a ride. I am aware, most U.S. law firms don’t accept client representation through email correspondence, however I will give you a call upon your response. My client, Maqsood Sajid Properties wants to file a case of breach of contract and claim against a company that is registered in jurisdiction.

Obviously, I cannot handle this matter since I am not licensed to practice in your state. This is why you are in a better position to handle it, hence the reason I am contacting you for your service. If you are interested in reviewing the details of my client’s claim, please kindly indicate in your response.

Sincerely,

Habib Al Moosa
Partner
Habib Al Moosa & Associates LLP
P.O. Box 116839
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 2 643 4475
Fax: +971 2 643 4478
e-mail: habib.almoosa@hama-lawfirm.com
website: http://hama-law.com

This email is from the fake McHugh Law Firm:

From: Anthony Newtone [mailto:anthony.n@lawyer.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:26 PM
To: {ATTORNEY NAME}
Subject: Urgent.

Dear {ATTORNEY NAME},

I called you this afternoon and your voice mail said I should email you, our firm are representing Twin Eagle Properties which I believe that owes your client Habib Al Moosa of (Maqsood Sajid Properties). To keep matters in right perspective, my client does not intend to go to court for the settlement of the $1,850,000.00 and it is imperative we settle outside court as my client is willing to pay at this point.

So get back to me at your earliest.

Yours sincerely,

Law firm name: McHugh law firm
Contact name: Anthony Newtone
Phone: 1 905 616 0667
Fax 905-982-2701

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 fraudinfo@lawpro.ca.

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 Sheet More 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.

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