Date First Reported: August 2015

Primary Name Associated: Morihiro Gotoh

Description of Potential Fraud:


Three Ontario firms notified us that they received an email from the purported Morihiro Gotoh of Gotoh & Co. looking to retain them with regards to a commercial debt collection..

This appears to be a 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 purchaser (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 to the lawyer:

From: Morihiro Gotoh [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: August-20-15 11:36 AM
Subject: Legal Matters

Dear Attorney
I am making an inquiry, Please do indicate if you handle commercial, contract, agency or business related matters?

Thank You
Morihiro Gotoh

Replying to the email brought this response:

Thank you for the response to my enquirer; it’s of great important to know you handle such matters. However, let me quickly intimate you with matters requiring your attention. Gotoh & Co.,Ltd is a manufacturing and trading company. We engage in wholesale/direct retail sales of multi-service Steel, Aluminum products. The company is based in Japan.

We sincerely wish to know if your firm services will be available in assisting us with a breach of contract and payment delay matter as it relate to our customer in your location. We have customers with overdue payment invoice who is yet to make full payment for the goods supplied in line with the agreement enter into. We have send out notification and remainder notice of the due payment. It is my belief that a Law firm likes yours is needed in a matter of this nature. We would want your firm to provide legal assistance in the area of our Account receivables and collections as we sincerely wish to eliminate the delayed in receiving due and balance payment for product supplied to our Canadian customers. We need your firm to issue demand notice when require or possible litigation and to bring actions in court against any of our customers with overdue payment now and in our future supplied.

However, It will be important for me to point out that we necessarily do not have payment defaulters but we wish to being to bear that all invoice should be settle within the stipulated due date as litigation may be introduced as a last resort. Our expectation upon engaging your firm services might be firstly, within the scenario of payment remainder notice to any of our purchasers who are reluctant to settle their invoice as at when due. We believe this will trigger a positive response from them towards settling their outstanding invoices in a timely manner. Presently our Canada customer overdue invoice amount to ($891,939.66).
We would be requiring your firm services on a long term contracts basis in view of our continuous trading with Canada customers. However, you may wish to notify us of the requirement as to engaging your services.

We have suffered so much loss as a result of payment which is being delayed by the customers and this is affecting our operations as a trading company. Let us know the best way to have this issue tackled. Furthermore, we have concerns as we have always had a cordial and successful business relationship with our customers and we sincerely wish to maintain this relationship. We do also require a cost-effective solution utilizing a range of alternative dispute resolution if possible without having to resolve to litigation. How can this and our receivables be handled by your firm? Do you charge on hourly basis or on a contingency fees basis? What are our responsibilities, what should we expect from you? Please advice on the best way possible as we are eager to have a system in place whereby our overseas customers will be obliged to make payment without exceeding the invoices due date. Please email me back or you may wish to call with the number below. I do understand that there is a great time difference between us. A quick response will be appreciated.

Thank you
Morihiro Gotoh
Gotoh & Co.,Ltd.
Phone: +81-6-4560-4996

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 SheetMore 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.