Separation agreement scam using the name Yumiko Murdoch
Date First Reported: January 2015
Primary Name Associated: Yumiko Murdoch
Description of Potential Fraud:
Firms in Ohio and Michigan notified us that they received an email from the purported Yumiko Murdoch 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:
On Jan 27, 2015, at 7:26 AM, [email protected]
My name is Yumiko Murdoch. Please advise if you handle Enforcement
Issue in Family Law Matter.
Replying to the email brought this response and fake ID:
Thank you for your prompt response. Am living in Japan and Timothy
Murdoch (ex-husband) lives in Mount Clemens, MI. 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 $657,600.00USD
for Family support (this includes child support, alimony and medical
support). To his credit, he has paid me $208,000.00USD but still owing
$449,600.00USD 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.
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 are an Ontario lawyer who suspects 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.
What can you do to help put a stop to the fraud attempt? You can simply stop replying to the fraudster’s emails or inform them that you suspect fraud and will not act on the matter (or will take no further actions on the matter). You can report the fraudsters email addresses to the email hosting company. If you have a fraudulent cheque you can destroy it or send it to the fraud department of the financial institution, which may wish to see it. In Canada, you can report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
We are often asked if it is worthwhile to report the fraud attempt to the police in the hopes of helping catch the fraudsters. You can certainly report the fraud to your local or federal law enforcement agencies, but unfortunately it is often difficult, expensive and time consuming for them to attempt to shut down these online fraud perpetrators (though there are some successes).
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.
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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.