Real estate bad cheque fraud using the name Chris Leung
Date First Reported: April 2016
Primary Name Associated: Chris Leung
Description of Potential Fraud:
Two Ontario lawyers notified us that he received an email from the purported Chris Leung looking to retain them with regards to representing them on a real estate transaction.
In this type of scam the fraudster pretends interest in a property and sends a certified cheque or bank draft as a deposit or full payment that will be deposited in the lawyer’s trust account. Soon after, some reason will be given for backing out of the deal and the fraudster will ask for the deposit or payment back, minus whatever legal fees and penalties the lawyer holds back.
Of course, the original cheque was fraudulent, so any amount the lawyer sends to the fraudster will cause a shortfall in the trust account.
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:
From: CHRIS LEUNG firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com
Date: March 19, 2016 at 4:45:02 AM EDT
To: CHRIS LEUNG <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Subject: Legal Representatives on Property Purchase
Good Day to you, we are Mr & Mrs Leung, we are Asian National, we are looking to buy a holiday home in Canada, we will need your advice on how we can achieve our goal. We are elderly couple and we looking for a House to buy and our Range is From $2 million canadian Dollars to $3 million Canadian Dollars.
We also like to know how much Tax are we to pay on this property and also how much commission we will pay to your law firm for representing us after the purchase
We look forward to hearing from you.
Mr. & Mrs. Chris Leung
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.