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Date First Reported: June 2014

Primary Name Associated: Deborah Spencer

Description of Potential Fraud:

fraud-warning

[Updated July 2014]

Four firms in Canada and the U.S. notified us that they received an email from the purported Deborah Spencer 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 sent by the fraudster to the lawyer:

From: Deborah Spencer [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: May-17-14 9:34 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: [SPAM] Re: Legal Representation.

Dear Counsel,

My name is Deborah Spencer, I am in an urgent need of legal representation
from your law firm regarding a breach of Loan agreement I had with a
friend of mine. I need legal advice and assistance to know the best way to
handle this issue. If this is your area of practice, please contact me to
provide you with further Information.

Regards,
Deborah Spencer.

Replying to the email brought this response:

Good day to you and thanks for responding to my email.

My name is Deborah Spencer and my address is 3817 Sedalia Trail Louisville, KY 40272.On November 1st, 2011, I lend Paul Robert whom now resides in your jurisdiction the sum of $450.000.00 with 8.5% interest on two years fixed term and to pay back November 1st, 2013. He had only paid me $75,000 but still owing $375,000.He used to live here in Kentucky before the loan was made, but He had now relocated to your jurisdiction (Joliet).

I was advised to seek legal assistance in my borrower new jurisdiction which is why I contacted you to act as my counsel in retrieving these funds. There has not been any attorney working on this case.Different payment dates have been promised and I still have not received anything.

My last contact with my Borrower, I was told I would receive payment not later than Mid January 2013 and till now, nothing has been paid.

Kindly let me know what your fees would be in order for me to inform Mr. Robert to expect contact from you as you have been authorized to act on my behalf. On your approval, I would like to forward your details to him so He knows a law firm is representing me and, I could sue for breach of agreement if He does not oblige to the terms of the loan agreement. I would like to give him this last chance to fulfill his obligations before we start legal proceeding if need be.

Please do get back to me so I can furnish you with the required details to contact my borrower on my behalf as I know He respect the law and wouldn’t want to be litigated. Before we proceed, kindly forward your fee/retainer agreement for my review and if satisfied with terms and conditions upon receipt; I shall make immediate provision for the fee for you to begin work.

Thank you for your anticipated co-operation and understanding. Contact me should you require more information. I have attached here a copy of the Loan Agreement Promissory Note and proof of partial payment He made for your peruse. My borrower’s name is Paul Robert.

Regards
Deborah Spencer

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 protected]

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. Instructions on how to report a claim are here.

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.