Commercial debt collection scam using the names Edward Yoshimura and Naito Steel & Pipe Co
Date First Reported: October 2014
Primary Name Associated: Edward Yoshimura
Description of Potential Fraud:
50 firms in Ontario and the U.S. have notified us that they received an email from the purported Edward Yoshimura of Naito Steel & Pipe Co looking to retain them with regards to a commercial debt collection.
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 from the fraudster to the lawyer:
From: Edward Yoshimura [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:45 PM
Subject: Contract Case
We wish to request for legal services and possible representation on a legal matter involving failure to fulfill contractual obligations. Please do let me know if your office is currently accepting new clients.
Replying to the email brought this response:
Thank you for responding to our email. With regard to the above subject matter, we placed an order for some goods from Airgas, Inc. back in August, 2013 and the terms of the sales contract requires we to pay 50% of the total cost of the ordered goods before delivery and the balance after we have received the same goods. However, after we paid the initial deposit, we did not receive any goods as required. The goods ought to be delivered in September, 2013. More time was given to them to deliver the goods which they were still unable to meet with. Hence, we requested for a refund.
We have made several efforts to have them refund the initial deposit, but to no avail. We have therefore decided to resort to legal means since there is an existing agreement prior to the transaction. Find below details of the supplier for your conflict check.
1415 Grand Avenue
San Marcos, CA 92078-2405
We have suffered so much loss as a result of this failed transaction and we are ready to proceed with litigation if the need should arise. Let us know the best way to have this issue tackled and we will comply as long as we get results. Furthermore, we have concerns and would like you to respond in detail in your reply.
Are they any foibles you see in this case?
If litigation is involved, the distance gives us some concern with regards to court appearances. How can this be handled?
How much is your legal fee? Do you charge on hourly basis or contingency?
What should we expect from you? Any guarantees?
Please advise on your assessment of this case. A quick response will be appreciated.
Naito Steel & Pipe Co. Ltd
Shin Kokusai Bldg. 4-1, Marunouchi 3 Chome,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8366, Japan
Tel: +81(0) 345 209 2228
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. Instructions on how to report a claim are here.
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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.
October 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm, Eric P. Mirabel said:
I just got the same letter as above from Edward Yoshimura of Naito Steel & Pipe Co regarding Airgas.
October 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm, Keith Schockmel said:
October 16, 2014
I got the same letter, word for word, except Airgas in New York.
October 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm, Brian McClatchey said:
Same, except in Washington.
October 21, 2014 at 3:44 pm, Leviston Brisolla, Esq. said:
Ditto!!!! except Airgas, Inc. in Oakland, NJ
October 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm, Michael Porter said:
Just got the same except for Denver Colorado
October 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm, Scott Davenport said:
We got the same one in Houston for Airgas in Houston.
October 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm, Peggy Johnson said:
Received an e-mail in Sandpoint, Idaho, with only the name of Edward Yoshimura at the bottom – no company name, emailed from Texas Tech University e-mail address.
October 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm, joseph said:
I just got an email from edward, less detail though. the dead giveaways that it is a scam is that these stupid things always start with “dear counsel” who actually uses that term? Second for a formal letter the spelling, grammer, and puncuation is horrible. These guys are obviously not in North America.
October 28, 2014 at 10:16 am, Dan Kaskel said:
I received an email from Naito Steel & Pipe Co. Ltd.
October 28, 2014 at 6:21 pm, James Arsenault said:
Another one in Washington State. Very vague, just a question whether or not my firm handles breach of contracts cases. Came from a email with a domain of “@outlook.com”…made me real suspicious right from the get-go.
October 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm, Mike Mosher said:
Got the same email and when I sent a reply that said if you are a real person and not a computer send details with a name and phone number, they sent the identical followup for Airgas in Paris, Texas.
Once I had the name I googled it. Found this site. What scum bags.
October 30, 2014 at 8:56 am, Eric Chapman said:
Same email, AirGas has now moved to Christiansburg, Virginia. Lol.
November 03, 2014 at 5:47 pm, Charles Radler said:
We went further down the road than most. Our Airgas office was in Piscataway, NJ. It looks like they pick one law firm near each Airgas office. I got a signed fee agreement late last week, and reminded “Edward” that we would not start work without the retainer being wired into our account. We do that to avoid the “excess retainer check” scam from new out of state clients which is apparently the twin to this one. (The certified retainer is issued for more than required, and the new client then begs for a wired refund of the excess amount because of an emergency. They get your wire for the excess tomorrow, and you find out that the certidfied check is bogus next week).
Today I get an excuse about the retainer, but a cashier’s check shows up from Airgas (return address was the Airgas corporate HQ in Radnor PA). The overnight mail envelope was mailed in Ontario, Canada. I googled the names at that point. We’re sending the fake check and the overnight envelope to law enforcement, and we’re going to start googling the names of new parties and the word “fraud” so that we don’t spend time opening and closing files like this in the future.
November 04, 2014 at 9:51 am, Nigel Blackman said:
Airgas, Inc is now in Bronx, NY
November 07, 2014 at 1:57 pm, Eliot Freeman said:
Same, for Airgas, Auburn MA
November 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm, Joe Urbanski said:
Same but now in Oregon
November 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm, Nicole Dwyer said:
My employer just had me do research on this as he received this email. Thank you for alerting us!!
November 17, 2014 at 7:52 am, Dick Davis said:
I clicked on the double arrow under Edward and up came:
Matthew McLear (mmclear) ([email protected]) on behalf of Edward Yoshimura ([email protected])
I went to University Mary Washington, searched Matthew McLear.
Search gave me: Matthew C. McLear NetID: mmclear [email protected]
But no further information.
November 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm, Gloria M said:
I got the same email. Asked for additional information, and “Mr. Yoshimura” supplied me with a very (very) basic contract and various emails purportedly from Airgas COO Michael L. Molinini. Mr. Molinini was deeply pained about Airgas’s inability to refund the entire deposit, promised to make amends, and blamed the “economic situation” in the U.S. Load of crap! Molinini even admits to breaching the contract. A very easily contractual dispute, in my opinion. 1st year (paralegal) stuff.
December 02, 2014 at 9:25 am, charles said:
Received such a letter with Airgas company located in the Bronx.
Thanks for the information much appreciated.
December 04, 2014 at 11:44 am, Doug P. said:
Yup, got my early Christmas Card/emails from this guy yesterday. Sent him this link and told him to wire me a $1,000,000,000,000.00 retainer. My bank has not called confirming the wire yet.
December 09, 2014 at 4:30 pm, Al Constants said:
received same solicitation on 12/6 regarding Airbus, a Connecticut corporation with office in Bronx. Read this website and I am very appreciative of its existence.
December 12, 2014 at 9:57 am, David Britton said:
We received a referral from another attorney wanting to know if we handled these types of matter. We don’t but I forwarded it to a colleague who did. He thought the terms were a little sketchy for such a large contract. This one involves Daisuke Holding, LLC out of Japan and Airgas. I am familiar with Airgas and know that they sell industrial gases, not plumbing parts. I went to their website and tried to search for similar products that the contract referred to. I then Googled ” Airgas Scam” and there is a letter from Airgas sent to many bar associations informing them of the scam and to notify their members. The same language is being used, but some the names are changed and some are identical. I think I will do what another who posted did-please send a retainer of $100,000.00. They may bite on the lower amount–do you think?????
December 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm, Charley said:
I received the exact same emails except that now they were targeting MN and Airgas was out of Roseville, MN. Additionally, the Name of the purchasing manager was changed to Kioshi Nakahara.
December 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm, Janice Binder said:
I received the same for Iowa
March 30, 2015 at 4:29 pm, JT said:
We had a similar experience in NJ regarding Airgas but nipped it in the bud and took extra precautionary measures to avoid current and future issues. We sincerely hope the targeted companies are working with law enforcement to permanently disengage the thieves.
September 29, 2015 at 11:46 pm, Sarah said:
I just received the email. All extremely similar. The Airgas who supposedly owes money is in Indianapolis. I thought it was weird from the start as I am an estate attorney, and other markings of scam were present. Thanks for info on this site.