Divorce settlement scam using the name Rhoda Kennedy
Date First Reported: September 2016
Primary Name Associated: Rhoda Kennedy
Description of Potential Fraud:
Firms in Utah and Illinois notified us that they received an email from the purported Rhoda Kennedy looking to retain them with regards to a collecting overdue payments resulting from a separation agreement.
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 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 received by the lawyer:
I wish to file a contempt petition against my ex-spouse for failure to make court ordered payments of Child Support, Spousal Support, and Medical support. Please advise if you handle such case. If you do not, kindly send me a referral on [email protected]
Replying to the email brought this response:
Thank you for your interest in my case. I would have loved to schedule an appointment to come over to your office for consultation but I am not currently in the state, I live in Japan while my ex husband McBrian who is an American Citizen lives in your jurisdiction. My ex husband and I fell in love during His UN deployment visit to Japan 1996 and got married 23rd of May, 1997, at Kumamoto Family Court. My ex husband McBrian Kennedy is a medical practitioner for the United Nations. Due to my hearing problem (Disability) it is difficult to talk to you on phone, would have loved to discuss this matter on phone but I can read and write very well. If need be to testify in the USA, I will make myself available at that time.
My ex husband and I agreed under a separation agreement incorporated, merged into and made part of the court order for a settlement of Child Support, Spouse Support and Medical Support of $918,500.00 USD he has only paid $245,600.00 January 28th, 2015 but still owing $672,900.00 and the stipulated time for the completion of payment April 17th, 2015 has long elapsed.
I am contacting your firm due to the fact that there is already an agreement in place and a court order. For your review I have attached document, you will find in PDF the Court Order and Separation Agreement. I request your firm’s legal service to enforce the court order compelling him to remit balance owed to me. For my review I request your attorney-client retainer agreement and if the terms are acceptable I will sign so we can commence the process as soon as possible.
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.