Date First Reported: August 2015

Primary Name Associated: Masahiro Mikami

Description of Potential Fraud:


A Texas firm notified us that they received an email from the purported Masahiro Mikami of Tokyo Gas 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: Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2015 9:41 AM
Subject: FYI


I urgently need a civil litigation lawyer. Kindly write back for further proceedings.

Mr Masahiro Mikami

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

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.

Airgas, Inc.
13636 Hempstead Hwy.
Houston, TX 77040

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

Best regards,
Masahiro Mikami
Purchasing Manager
Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
1-5-20 Kaigan, Minato-ku,
Tokyo 105-8527, Japan
Tel: +81345781461
[email protected]

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.

For more immediate updates on fraud and claims prevention, subscribe to the email or RSS feed updates from LAWPRO’s AvoidAClaim blog.

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.