Separation agreement scam using the name Mei Russell
Date First Reported: December 2013
Primary Name Associated: Mei Russell
Description of Potential Fraud:
Three U.S. lawyers have notified us that they received an email from the purported Mei Russell 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, and subsequent reply:
From: Mei Russell
Date: Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 1:26 AM
My Name Is Mei Russell. I wish to file an enforcement petition against my ex-spouse for breaching the court’s decree with regards to payment of child support, alimony and medical support. If you are available for such case Kindly Advise immediately.
C/O Alice Barrington
Replying to the email brought this response:
Thank you for your prompt response. Am living in Japan and Brian Russell (ex-husband) lives in Northglenn, Colorado. Due to the time difference (+13 hours 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 onetime cash settlement of $557,000.00USD for Family support (this includes child support, alimony and medical support). To his credit, he has paid me $208,000.00USD from a total of $557,000.00 USD but still owing $349.000.00USD 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 and due to the fact that he lives under your jurisdiction i decided to contact you.
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 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 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.
March 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm, Cynthia Sullivan-Brown said:
I just received this today, 03/16/14. I was in the process of replying and referring her to a colleague when I decided to google her – and found this site. I instead forwarded the email to my colleague who told me she, too, had been targeted. We are both in Washington State.
The email address wasn’t spoofed, but there was an extra “l” at the end. Also, Mei is not a Japanese name (although the initial email doesn’t indicate where she’s located).
Thank you for posting this!