[Updated Nov 2013]
Over 180 lawyers in Ontario, the U.S and overseas have notified us that they received an email from the purported Fumiko Anderson looking to retain them with regards to a collecting overdue payments resulting from a separation agreement.
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). 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, subsequent replies and fake documentation sent by the fraudster to the lawyer:
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2013 8:18 AM
Subject: I need your Counsel
I wish to engage your legal representation to help me file a petition against my ex-husband for breaching the court order with regards to payment of Child Support, Spousal Support and Medical Support. Kindly advise.
Replying to the email brought this response:
Thank you for your prompt response. Am currently in Japan for an assignment while Bill Anderson (ex-husband) lives in Chicago, IL. Due to the time difference (+13hrs EST) it is a little bit difficult to determine the best time to call you. Following our divorce, we agreed under a negotiated settlement agreement which is incorporated, merged into and made part of the court decree for a one-time payment of $878,650.00USD for Family support (this includes child support, alimony and medical support). To his credit, he has paid me $201,600.00USD but still owing $677.050.00USD and the due time for completion of payment is over. Thus, I request your legal counsel and representation to enforce the final judgment thereby compelling him to remit the balance owed me. He is aware of my intention to seek legal actions. Attached is a copy of the separation agreement, and Final Judgment and I will be pleased to provide further information on this case on request. I desire to
retain your law firm, please forward your firm’s retainer fee agreement so that we can proceed. Thank you and have a pleasant day.
3-6-23 Karashimacho,Chuo-ku,Kumamoto. City 860-0804
Phone: +81 (0) 505 809-8190
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 email@example.com.
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.