Commercial debt collection scam using the names Hitomi Kimoto and Wu Lee Steel Co.
Date First Reported: January 2015
Primary Name Associated: Hitomi Kimoto
Description of Potential Fraud:
An Ohio firm notified us that they received an email from the purported Hitomi Kimoto of Wu Lee Steel 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:
—– Message from “Jensen, Julia”
Subject: Do you handle Breach of Contract?
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.
2020 Train Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113-4205
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.
Wu Lee Steel Co.
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 are an Ontario lawyer who suspects 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.
What can you do to help put a stop to the fraud attempt? You can simply stop replying to the fraudster’s emails or inform them that you suspect fraud and will not act on the matter (or will take no further actions on the matter). You can report the fraudsters email addresses to the email hosting company. If you have a fraudulent cheque you can destroy it or send it to the fraud department of the financial institution, which may wish to see it. In Canada, you can report the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
We are often asked if it is worthwhile to report the fraud attempt to the police in the hopes of helping catch the fraudsters. You can certainly report the fraud to your local or federal law enforcement agencies, but unfortunately it is often difficult, expensive and time consuming for them to attempt to shut down these online fraud perpetrators (though there are some successes).
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.