Separation agreement scam using the name Hitomi Jefferson
Date First Reported: November 2013
Primary Name Associated: Hitomi Jefferson
Description of Potential Fraud:
Lawyers in Ontario, Michigan and California have notified us that they received an email from the purported Hitomi Jefferson 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, subsequent replies and fake documentation sent by the fraudster to the lawyer:
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, November 18, 2013 6:27 AM
Subject: Hitomi vs Goldstein
I wish to hire your legal service to help me file a petition against my ex-husband for failure to make court ordered payment for Child Support, Alimony and Medical Support. Please advise.
Replying to the email brought this response:
Thank you for your prompt response. Am living in Japan and Goldstein Jefferson (ex-husband) lives in Holden, MO. 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 $746,800.00USD for Family support (this includes child support, alimony and medical support). To his credit, he has paid me $202,100USD but still owing $544,700.00USD 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.
1 Chome-2-4 Sakurababa,
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.
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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.
November 20, 2013 at 12:43 am, Roy Zukerman said:
I responded to the initial email with a fee quotation and received an interesting reply-
1. The “Separation Agreement” says the marriage was at the Uijeongbu District Court in Nagoya. Of course Uijeongbu is a suburb of Seoul, Korea, not a Japanese city.
2. The “Seal” of the Nagasaki District Court is in English and Hangul (Korean characters).
3. The information line at the bottom of a very realistic Passport page is entirely blank.
4. The attorney names for both parties shown on the “Divorce Decree” are Korean, not Japanese.
I was curious about how the scam would work. I find it hard to believe that any experienced attorney would wire uncleared funds from his/her trust account, but I guess the fraudsters think it would happen.
November 22, 2013 at 3:59 pm, M. Phillips said:
In addition to the inconsistencies noted by Mr. Zukerman, the separation agreement and passport contain identical “Hitomi” signatures. Suspecting a fraud, I requested confirmed contact information for “Goldstein” in the local area, and heard nothing further from the thieves.
November 25, 2013 at 10:11 am, Britt H. said:
I am a new attorney at an established law firm in ND. Received this email over the weekend. This is the 3 such scam email that has been sent my way.
November 25, 2013 at 11:49 am, Steven P. said:
Like Britt, I am a new attorney at an established law firm in ND. I just received this email this morning:
Can your law firm handle contempt petition against my ex-husband for failure to make court ordered payments resulting from dissolution of marriage?
November 26, 2013 at 3:07 am, Michelle S said:
I received the same email. Initially I was skeptical but sent a retainer and fee quote and got a response agreeing to everything and requesting a fee agreement. I sent the email to a friend and we both found it to be off. While we didn’t bother checking the court or the characters on the documents, I requested all the identification information I could think of on the “husband” to see if I’d get a response, and we googled the “wife’s” name and found all the scam site warnings.
Clearly at this point, we’re just seeing how far this will go…without sending any banking info, of course.
November 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm, Nazcalito Z said:
This was my response:
Dear Ms. Hitomi Jefferson:
You previously hired us for this case, don’t you remember? Your ex-husband, Goldstein Jefferson, has already paid us the past due $544,700.00 in back support that he owed you. After deducting our normal fees, you owe us $4,289.56. As a client bonus exclusively for you, we are not charging for this email. Please remit a check for the amount to Hugh Lose Dewey, Esq. within the next five business days.
Your obedient servant,
Hugh Lose Dewey
by Sonia Gonzalez, legal assistant
Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, PC
November 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm, Joel V said:
I received the same email on 11/26. I forwarded it [email protected] asking them to shut down the offending email account [email protected]
November 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm, David said:
I am a CPA that is involved in collaborative law, I receive at least one usually two of these email weekly.
November 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm, Brent Ventura said:
I have received dozens of these solicitations. The first one I thought might be legitimate. I received the cashiers check and took it to the bank it was drawn on and did not deposit it into my Trust account. The purported cashiers check was a carefully crafted counterfeit that the teller would have accepted. I asked for the manager to check it and she verified it was fraudulent.
Please report these fraudulent solicitations, and beware of others besides Ms. Jefferson.
November 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm, Nancy M said:
We received a similar email but from Fumiko somebody or other but we also received a cashiers check for the amount “owed” from “husband”. He was nice enough to send an unsigned and unaddressed memo with it. His overnight mail address was from a local hospital and an American name, but postmarked in Canada. Called Chase who said the cashier’s check was a fraud because it was missing many things a legitimate cashier’s check would have ordinarily. It certainly looked legitimate. Wrote ‘client’ and told her we didn’t have time to get to the bank, but we would endorse it to her and forward the cashier’s check to her once she had paid her fee. Needless to say we haven’t heard from her again. Knowing it was a scam, it was a nice diversion from an otherwise busy day.
December 02, 2013 at 1:51 pm, Karen P said:
I received similar emails. My personal favorite was the return address used by the husband on the Express Mail. They clearly did not realize they used a home address two doors down from mine that was owned by an East Indian family and currently listed for sale. And, as mentioned in a previous post, the check was sent from Canada. Finally, the Express Mail was sent after I told them to go away in a rather caustic email.
December 02, 2013 at 6:05 pm, Mayumi I. said:
I receive this type of scam email almost every week. When I received the first one, I was almost caught in the scam – I got a counterfeit check by Fedex and deposited it into my bank account – but, luckily, my bank didn’t cash the check. The check was on hold for several days and returned to me because it was fake.
By the way, I wonder why they always use Japanese names. I’m Japanese and the reason why I believed in the fist scam was that I thought that the person needed legal assistance in Japanese. They apparently did not 🙁
December 09, 2013 at 1:14 pm, Steven P. said:
I received another email from Ms. Hitomi Jefferson on December 4:
“My Ex Husband has violated court order in payment of child, spousal and medical support. Please advise if you handle such case.
Please contact: [email protected]”
August 25, 2015 at 3:54 pm, Frank B said:
Now I have received it from Mrs. Paris and Mr. Michael Jun.
I asked him to send the payment directly to Mrs. Paris.
My name is Michael Jun . I have tried calling you, but i could not get through. I am writing you this email in respect of the email i got from my ex-wife Paris.I know that there has been some default on my side to keep to the “Settlement agreement” and remit funds to Paris as agreed upon.But due to the economic meltdown, I am unable to keep to this agreeement.Please I do not want to go to court or face any form of litigation.
Therefore, In regard of your client Paris, I am willing to send you a part-payment from the few savings that I have. I intend to pay the balance in 4 weeks from the day of my first disbursement to you.Please be considerate and accept my offer.
I look forward to hearing from you soonest.
Michael Jun .