Commercial debt collection scam using the names Hitoshi Tanimura and Japan Aerospace Corporation
Date First Reported: September 2014
Primary Name Associated: Hitoshi Tanimura
Description of Potential Fraud:
A New York firm notified us that they received an email from the purported Hitoshi Tanimura and Japan Aerospace Corporation looking to 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.
This email also appears to use the name of a real law firm, though the email address has been changed.
Here is the initial contact email sent by the fraudster to the lawyer:
From: Borstein & Sheinbaum [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 16 September 2014 09:40
Subject: Legal Advice
Good Morning, I am sending this email as a referral
Mr. Hitoshi Tanimura is a director of Japan Aerospace Corporation,
Japan/South Korea. The company seeking advice and possible
representation in litigation against non-paying company in your country.
I am unable to handle this matter at this time. I have represented this
company in the past. You can contact Mr. Tanimura for more details if
you are interested in representing.
Below is his contact information:
Mr. Hitoshi Tanimura
Japan Aerospace Corporation
I encourage you to contact one another to see if this is a situation
where you can work together.
Borstein & Sheinbaum
420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 2920
New York, NY 10170
Attorney At Law
strong>Replying to the email brought this response:
Thanks for your reply. I would like your firm to represent us with regards to a contract case, and i believe you will have to run a conflict check before you can decide to represent us. Below is the debtors information for a conflict check.
Auer Steel & Heating Supply Company
3050 Progress Rd, Madison, WI 53716, United States
Please get back to me so that i can furnish you with more information about this matter.
How to handle a real or suspected fraud
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September 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm, Stephen Berger, Esq. said:
The following is an e-mail solicitation I recently received. It “feels” like a scam but I haven’t turned this one up in any of my research. Text follows:
If interested, please provide feedback today, if possible. Furthermore, I may be available to correspond with you later today and over the weekend. I’ll have to play it by ear.
This type of project is so successful since its stakes are the highest stakes possible—life and death. One key aspect of this project is that it will involve you notifying stakeholders that there is a serious life and death matter relating to them personally, substantially and directly—rather than in some vague or hypothetical way.
Since this project is related to some class action cases, let me use a fictional class action case as an example. And since this is just an example, let’s assume that everything about this example is legal and ethical. Now let me proceed with the example. Let’s say that our company, based on our affiliation with a defective products class action case, knew the identities of the homeowners who have a defective heater in their home. This defective heater poses a significant threat of spontaneously exploding and killing the occupants in the home. It would therefore be your job to notify the homeowners of this danger. The homeowner would be required to prepay all applicable fees including your attorney fee. This is what is referred to as having super leverage due to the death-threat aspect. That is, when we say “Jump,” the stakeholders’ only reasonable reply is “How high?”
Again this is a fictional example. However, this is the role that I want you to ultimately play—notifying stakeholders of a life-threatening matter.
But for now, I want you to serve as my liaison to private investigators (PI’s) who I am seeking to recruit for this project. Since your fee will be paid by these PI’s, technically this would be a contingency payment arrangement. But this is a misnomer since “contingency” implies risk and there is an absolute absence of risk for this project—and this is not theory but instead the actual track record (i.e., our attorneys have always gotten paid, and without complications). Why? Again, the super leverage. The super leverage regarding the PI recruits would not be any death threat, rather the certainty of being paid HUGE fees—fees that they can’t match anywhere else. This type of project has been successfully run before and, for obvious reasons, the same type of success is expected for this project.
Super leverage is super leverage regardless of whether it is a carrot (regarding the PI recruits salivating for a HUGE payday) or a stick (regarding the fictional homeowners seeking to avoid being burned to a crisp by an exploding heater).
With there being multiple class action cases and matters underlying this project, this project will continue for years since there are literally thousands of stakeholders to notify. However, with respect to the PI’s, I need you to process just a handful of them. Once we have one or more PI’s onboard, we will then involve you in said notification phase (regarding death threat).
Obviously this email is intended to provide you with just the main or high-level points. In providing you with the additional details I may or may not involve a “conduit attorney” located in my local area, who will be tasked with handling the logistics of getting those additional details to you.