Date First Reported: April 2016

Primary Name Associated: Chris Dean

Description of Potential Fraud:


Two firms in California have notified us that they received an email from the purported Chris Dean of Swift Marine Engineering & Equipment looking to retain them with regards to making a large commercial purchase.

This appears to be a 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 purchaser (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 contact email sent to the lawyer:

From: Chris Dean [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2016 10:59 AM
Subject: Purchase and Sales Agreement

Do you draft purchase and sales agreement?

Replying to the email brought this response:

I appreciate your kind response. As earlier mentioned through the first contact, my company is in need of an experienced business attorney to guide us through closing the sale of a 2010 28-inch Cutter Suction Dredging Ellicott equipment to Socal Dredging, Inc. located in Ramona, California.

The above mentioned 2010 dredging equipment has a sales price of $2,950,000.00usd. This amount includes the insurance cost, shipping and handling cost, quality control test approval to ensure the standards tallies with the US government approved level.

One of the terms in the Letter of Intent is that at least not less than a 25% of the total cost must be received within 5 business days of signing an engagement with the attorney to show commitment to close the sale. Of the paid amount, $494,500 is to be paid out for an inspection of the equipment and it`s further survey to commence the shipping process.

I have included a couple of documents to your attention and review. Upon signing your retainer, copies of the Letter of Intent(LOI) shall be sent to you together with the signed retainer.

You can send us your retainer for our review. If we are all clear on your rate and terms of engagement, it will be endorsed so that we can start the closing of the transaction.

See below the prospective customer for your conflict check on:

Ronald Troy
Socal Dredging, Inc.
16996 Sky Valley Drive
Ramona, CA 92065
Voice: 1-866-503-7794

Thank you.

Chris Dean
Sales Director
Swift Marine Engineering & Equipment, LLC.
409 Granville Suite 1259, Vancouver
BC V6C 1T2, Canada
Tel: 604 – 417 – 7601

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.

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.