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Date First Reported: October 2014

Primary Name Associated: Margareth Johnson

Description of Potential Fraud:

fraud-warning

An Ontario firm notified us that they received an email from the purported Margareth Johnson 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’s intake form:

Name: Margareth Johnson
Company Name:
City:
State/Country: United States of America
Email Address: [email protected]
Phone: (956)-307-3939
Comments:
My name is Margareth L Johnson. I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement (Collaborative Law Agreement) with my ex-husband Yoshito Johnson who resides in Canada at the moment. Please contact me via [ [email protected] ] for more details.

Replying to the email brought this response:

Good day to you and thank you for your response to my inquiry. Currently am living in Japan for an assignment on Compassion’s Christian Child Development Projects. I would have called you on the phone with the time difference (+13hrs EST) it is a little bit difficult to gauge the best time to reach you.

My Full names and date of birth.
Margareth Lee Johnson.
20 October, 1961

Ex- Husband full name and date of birth.
Yoshito Johnson
12th March, 1964

We agreed under this Collaborative Law Agreement for a one time cash settlement of $748,450.00 to his credit, he has paid me $289,450.00. He is aware of my intention to seek legal actions. I will be pleased to provide further information on this matter on request. I expect this to be a non-litigation matter. I have already advised him I am planning on retaining your firm. I would like you to get back to me for us to discuss the case as well as the contingency attorney fees that will involve. If possible send me the contingency attorney fees agreement so that we can proceed.

Thank you and have a pleasant day.

Regards,
Margareth Johnson

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.