Date First Reported: November 2013

Primary Name Associated: Stephan Proennecke

Description of Potential Fraud:


[Updated Jan 2014]

Twenty U.S. lawyers have notified us that they received an email from the purported Stephan Proennecke of DebioTech S.A. Limited looking to retain them with regards assisting on corporate matters, but in reality is likely a lead-up to a commercial debt collection scam or similar kind of scam.

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 contact email sent by the fraudster to the lawyer, subsequent response and fake documentation:

From: Stephan Proennecke [[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, November 25, 2013 6:21 AM
To: Edward Johnson

We were refer to your firm by American Bar Association. We are enquiring for an experienced attorney to handle a breach of contract negotiation or a lawsuit.

Yours Sincerely,
Stephan Proennecke
Project Manager & Director of Production
Debiotech S.A.

Replying to the email brought this response:

Thanks for your response, attached to this email are documents relating to this transaction for your review. Please send to me your standard retainer agreement and address the retainer agreement to Frederic Neftel the Managing Director.

Yours Sincerely,
Stephan Proennecke
Project Manager & Director of Production
Debiotech S.A.
Le Portique Av, de Sévelin 28
1004 Lausanne Switzerland
Phone: +41 22 548 16 70

A New Jersey lawyer was called by someone purporting to be Frederic Neftel (referred to in some of the fake correspondence), and the phone number was 973-642-1801.

Proennecke CONTRACT PAGE 1

Proennecke CONTRACT PAGE 2

Proennecke EMAIL NOTE

Proennecke PAYMENT

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.

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.