Business loan fraud using the name Kwang Zhou
Date First Reported: February 2019
Primary Name Associated: Kwang Zhou
Description of Potential Fraud:
Two Ontario firms notified us that they received an email from the purported Kwang Zhou 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 Cybercrime and Bad Cheque 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: kwang zhou [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: January-11-19 5:01 AM
My name is Mr. Kwang Zhou. I am requesting your assistance in the
litigation of a $255,000
debt owed to me by my late wife’s brother, Mr. Andrew White. I need a
lawyer that will help me enforce the agreement we had, and force him to pay
back what he owes me.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Replying to the email brought this response:
Thanks for the reply. The debtors name is Mr. Andrew White and he resides in CANADA, while i reside in HONG KONG.
At present Andrew owes me $255,000, I initially gave him a loan of $340,000 but he has paid back a total of $85,000.
In 2016 Andrew came to us (my late wife and I) seeking financial assistance. He said he needed some money to inject into a new business venture he was embarking on and with the constant insistence of my late wife to assist him, i had to oblige him with the loan.
After the accident that caused the death of Jane (my late wife and Andrew’s brother), Andrew became very distant. He never checked on me all through my recovery in the hospital. I have heard rumors that he blames me for the death of his sister.
I have also been told that he believes it was my negligence that caused the accident that took her life.
The past one year plus has been a sad and tragic period for me. Since the accident my life has not been the same, I have not been able to make proper use of all my body functions which limits me in so many ways. I suffer from a speech condition called Dysarthria which makes vocal communication a bit frustrating.
My disability has made it difficult for me to chase him or get someone to chase him effectively and I believe this is the main reason he has not fully paid back what he owes me, and I need all the money i can get now as my health is declining rapidly.
I would be extremely glad if you can assist me with this problem.
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.