Business loan collection fraud using the name Scott Steinberg
Date First Reported: May 2017
Primary Name Associated: Scott Steinberg
Description of Potential Fraud:
Two Ontario firms notified us that they received an email from the purported Scott Steinberg looking to retain them with regards to a breach of a business loan agreement.
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 other names associated with it , and our Fraud Fact Sheet for a list the red flags of a bogus legal matter that is really a fraud.
Here is the initial contact email sent to the lawyer:
From: Scott Steinberg [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: May 11, 2017 12:27 PM
Subject: representation needed
I am in need of your legal assistance regarding a breach of loan agreement I provided a friend of mine in the amount of $750,000. He needed this loan to complete an ongoing project he was handling last year. He now resides in your jurisdiction and the loan was for 24 months with interest accrued at the rate of 7.5%. The capital and interest were supposed to be paid on February, 2016 but he has only paid $50,000.
Please let me know if this falls within the scope of your practice, so that I can provide you with the loan documents and any further information you need to know.
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.
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. 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.
June 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm, Rich McGervey said:
I received this same phishing scam. Halfheartedly replied, suspecting fraud. Asked them to send $30,000 in confirmed funds and we would take case at $250/hr, $100/hr for paralegals, to see how far they would go. No check. Started getting emails from the borrower, asking to pay. No agreement ever to represent was made. Then we got a check for $186,000 from the borrower, representing partial payment, with no warning it was coming. Then he called, immediately, asking if we received check and posted payment. The mail contained an illegible return address, the Certified check had a watermark from a major bank, but looked like it was printed on a cheap printer. Otherwise it looked legit. I called Chase bank and reported my suspicions, and the ink smeared under a wet finger! They told me just to bring it in. When he called I questioned him for his return address. He said he could not give me an address, and could not give me an address for the creditor. He referred to the creditor, Scott Steinberg, as “Mrs. Scott.” When I asked if it was a he or a she, he then said “Mr. Scott.” He stammered a lot, said he just wanted to start taking care of this, etc. I informed him the whole thing stunk to high heaven of a scam, I was taking his check to Chase, and maybe reporting it to the FBI. I haven’t heard back from him. Shocker.
August 04, 2017 at 11:56 am, Mark Lippman said:
Just received the same email request. Thought it was fraud so I did an internet search and found this website.
August 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm, Not fooling me said:
My firm just received this email as well. It immediately seemed weird so I googled the email address [email protected] and came across this site. Figures.
December 12, 2017 at 4:24 pm, R. Graham Renfro said:
I am an attorney in North Carolina, USA. I was just sent this same email from a friend who received it. This guy has changed the email address, so just a heads up to everyone:
Same scam with the exact same email text as above. Just a heads up to everyone.
January 10, 2018 at 6:24 pm, John T Davis said:
Received this email verbatim with the outlook address in late December 2017.
I just started a solo practice and am still getting used to advertising and on-boarding new clients, so I’m not as savvy to scam detection as I’d like to be. I was actually preparing an engagement letter (for nothing more than a demand letter), when a feeling of dread came over me. I googled his email address and ended up here.
This is the second time I’ve been almost hit by one of these scams and figured it out at the last minute. I’m bummed, since it seemed like a straight-forward case. Figures.
January 24, 2018 at 10:12 pm, Burton Manne said:
Same email received in Houston, Texas on 1/24/2018.