Commercial equipment purchase scam using the names Philips Giovanni and Mega Equipment & Dredging
Date First Reported: December 2015
Primary Name Associated: Philips Giovanni
Description of Potential Fraud:
A firm in Texas and one in Ontario have notified us that they received an email from the purported Philips Giovanni of Mega Equipment & Dredging looking to retain them with regards to making a large commercial purchase.
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: [email protected]
Date: Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: Purchase and Sales Agreement
Thank you for the reply. I am the Project/ Sales manager of Mega Equipment & Dredging, Inc and we are in the process of selling a 28-inch Cutter Suction Dredging Ellicott equipment to a company, Aqua Dredge Inc. in your state. For this transaction to be completed within the stipulated time period, we would need legal guidance to help my company follow due process of doing business in you state since we are not located there.
The sales price of this equipment is estimated to cost $3,950,000.00. This amount includes the shipping and handling cost, quality control testing with a partner company before shipping to ensure it meets with the US quality control standard, insurance, and other necessary documentations that needs approval before the equipment is shipped to the client.
See attached documents for your review. The Letter of Intent (LOI) will be sent together once we sign your engagement letter. Advise us on your retainer fees/rates including the details of your terms of engagement for my company to study. Once we are clear on the details of your retainer, we will go ahead, sign it and forward back to you to commence the process.
Below is the name of the prospective client company, for your conflict check:
Continental Dredging Inc.
2614 Roy Road
Pearland, TX 77581
Mega Equipment & Dredging, Inc
105 North Harbour Rd W Goderich
ON N7A 2W5
Direct Line: +1-437-333-4142
Toll Free: +1-888-857-8225
Email: [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]. We use this information for the warnings we post on AvoidAClaim. We do not disclose the names of firms that have provided us with information.
Ontario Lawyers - Call LAWPRO
If you are an Ontario lawyer acting on a matter that you suspect might be a fraud, call LAWPRO at 1-800-410-1013 (416-598-5899). One of our Fraud Team members 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, 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. 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 it is drawn upon. 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).
What if the fraud has been successful?
If you have been successfully duped, please immediately notify LAWPRO as there may be a claim against you. See the LAWPRO website for instructions on how to report a claim.
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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. To proactively prevent trust account shortfalls and malpractice claims, LAWPRO encourages firms to teach their lawyers and staff about fraud and how to recognize fraud attempts.