Date First Reported: March 2015

Primary Name Associated: Tamotsu Sato

Description of Potential Fraud:


A California firm notified us that they received an email from the purported Tamotsu Sato of Daiso Co Ltd 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:

Subject: Recovery of Debt
From: “Tamotsu Sato”[email protected]
Date: Fri, March 20, 2015 12:14 am

Dear Counselor:
My Name is Mr. Tamotsu Sato, Chief Executive Officer of Daiso Co., LTD. Daiso Co., LTD is a Chemical manufacturing company in Japan, located at 12-18, Awaza 1-chome, Nishi-ku, Osaka 550-0011, Japan.
We have a claim against a company in your country for breach of contract. In other words, we seek legal counsel to assist in collecting funds owed us from this customer. We believe that by retaining local counsel in our company, this customer will pay us sums owed in order to avoid litigation. We stand ready to provide all supporting documents to substantiate our case for settlement or litigation purposes. Should you wish to pursue this matter with us, please send your retainer agreement with a schedule of fees and any other information that you deem necessary by return e-mail at [email protected]
P.S. If you are unable to represent our company, please be so kind as to refer us to a reputable firm or individual practitioner that will be able to assist us. Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.
Tamotsu Sato
Chief Executive Officer
12-18, Awaza 1-chome, Nishi-ku, Osaka 550-0011, Japan

Replying to the email brought this response:

Thanks for responding on time and looking forward working with you on this. I am almost done negotiating sale of a dredger to a buyer residing in your area, currently I am in need of an attorney to help me draft a purchase and sale agreement for the transaction, the buyer has conducted primary inspection and he is satisfied. I have attached some necessary details of the dredger for your review, Please i will need your advise on your rate, retainer fee and forward to me your retainer agreement to sign. below is the name of the proposed buyer for your conflict check.

Proposed Buyer
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company
2122 York Road Oak Brook,IL 60523

Gerhard Drenth
Purchase and Business Development
Royal Bodewes Group
9601 LG Hoogezand
The Netherlands
Direct Line:+3228087502 (currently in Belgium new office)

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.

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

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.