[Updated Nov 2013]
Twenty lawyers in Ontario and the U.S. have notified us that they received an email from the purported Maki (or Mako) Kennedy 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: Maki Kennedy [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 4:31 AM
Subject: Unpaid support obligations
Please i wish to file a contempt petition against my ex-spouse for failure to make court ordered payments of Child Support, Spousal Support, Equitable distribution and Medical support.Please advise if you handle such case.However,kindly make referral if this is not your area of practice.
Replying to the email brought this response:
Thank you for your interest in my case. I would have loved to schedule an appointment to come over to your office for consultation but I am not currently in the states, I live in Japan while my ex husband Brian Kennedy who is a US Citizen lives in your jurisdiction. I and my ex husband fell in love during His UN deployment visit to Japan 1996 and got married 23rd of May, 1997, at Kumamoto Family Court. My ex husband Brian Kennedy is a medical practitioner for the United Nations. Due to my hearing problem (Disability) it is difficult to talk to you on phone, would have loved to discuss this matter on phone but I can read and write very well. If need be it to testify in the United States I will make myself available at that time.
My ex husband and agreed under a separation agreement incorporated, merged into and made part of the court order for a settlement of Child Support, Spouse Support and Medical Support of $918,500.00 USD he has only paid $245,600.00 January 28th, 2013 but still owing $672,900.00 and the stipulated time for the completion of payment April 17th, 2013 has long elapsed.
I am contacting your firm due to the fact that there is already an agreement in place and a court order. For your review I have attached document you will find my ID, in PDF the Court Order and Separation Agreement. I request your firm’s legal service to enforce the court order compelling him to remit balance owed to me. For my review I request your attorney-client retainer agreement and if the terms are acceptable I will sign so we can commence the process as soon as possible. Immediately I receive the retainer agreement I will Sign and return to your office.
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.