Divorce settlement agreement using the name Maria Tochi
Date First Reported: September 2018
Primary Name Associated: Maria Tochi
Description of Potential Fraud:
Firms in Texas and Germany notified us that they received an email from the purported Maria Tochi 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 Cybercrime and Bad Cheque Scams Fraud Fact Sheet lists the red flags of a bogus legal matter that is really a fraud.
Here is the email received by the lawyer:
From: [email protected]
Subject “Settlement Agreement”:
“I am seeking legal representation from your law firm regarding a Divorce Settlement agreement with my ex husband ( Micha Tochi ) .
I need proper legal advice and assistance to know the best way to handle this issue.If this is your area of practice, please contact me to provide you with further Information.“
Replying to the email brought this response:
“We were married and divorced in Japan with 4 children,I live in Germany, but am currently in Japan , my ex-husband Micha relocated to Hamburg, Germany, he is into Real Estate Management, We both agreed under a Separation Agreement incorporated, merged into and made part of the court decree for a settlement of Child Support, Spousal Support, and Medical support of $578,000.00USD, he has paid me $78,000.00USD but still owing $500,000.00USD and the stipulated time for completion of payment has long elapsed.
I am hereby am now seeking your legal assistance in collecting the balance or helping me enforce and have him honor the agreement. I will be providing further information upon your request. I have already advised Micha Tochi my ex that I will be retaining a lawyer, so he knows I am ready to take action to get my settlement from him, So I will require you to send me your retainer agreement base on an hourly rate so we can start from there. I need to know if I will be able to work with your terms.
Attached is a copy of the Separation Agreement, Decree of Divorce .
I believe a law firm like yours is needed to help me to file lawsuit against him or litigate this matter if he fails to pay as promised. Please send me your retainer agreement for my review in your next email. My English is bad, will appreciate if someone speak on behalf of me. Thank you
Maria Tochi .
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.