Nigerian Letter ScamThere is a new version of the Nigerian Letter Scam targeting law firms with the promise of work in collecting unpaid amounts in Family Law Collaborative settlements.

If you remember the Nigerian letter scam works on the promise of some funds (often in the millions) but first they need you to pay some funds or provide a blank letterhead and your bank details. The promise is never fulfilled and you lose whatever you paid and in the past whatever was in your bank account.

I have had a couple of these emails in the last week.

A copy of one of them follows:

Hi Sir/Madam,

I am Donna Lynn Chipman. I am contacting this firm in regards to my settlement with my separated husband (Ashak R. Chipman) who resides in your jurisdiction. I am currently on assignment in Asia. We had an out of court agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay $848,900.00 plus legal fees. He has only paid me $184,000.00. I am hereby requesting your firm to assist in collecting the balance from him. He is willing to pay me the balance but I would appreciate if your office handles the collection process from my ex to avoid further delays or litigate this matter if he fails to pay as promised.

Sincerely,
Donna Lynn Chipman.

If you have a look around the internet, you will find many examples of the same sort of letter.

How it Works?

From what I can understand, you will receive a fraudulent cheque from an overseas bank, they will then pressure you into sending them money from your account before the cheque is found to be bogus.

The interesting thing about this one is that it appears to be far more targeted in terms of its audience (lawyers) and the promise seems reasonable and fair.

Some clues are:

  • Poor grammar,
  • Untraceable email addresses (gmail, hotmail etc),
  • Email address with no obvious connection to sender.

If you do a Google search of a couple of the sentences in the email, it will often help you decide if it is a scam.

Have you received similar letters, I would love to hear about them.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Collaborative Law - Nigerian Letter Scam | Forensic Accountants Business Advisors Dolman Bateman -- Topsy.com

  2. Kate Robillard

    Dear Arnold

    I am corresponding with someone from Japan who has an astonishingly similar story to Ms Chipman from Nigeria! I have requested payment of $5,000 to my trust account and hope that will make her go away!

    Kate Robillard

  3. Alana Lee

    We have recieved a similar letter as follows:

    Dear Counsel,
    My name is Vera Ho and I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement with my ex husband (Vance Ho) who resides in your jurisdiction. I am currently on assignment in Hong Kong.

    We had an out of court agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay $948,450.00 plus legal fees in 2008, but to date he has only paid me $60,000.I am hereby seeking your firm???? assistance in collecting the balance which was agreed upon when we got into the out of court deal by either mediation or if need be by litigation.
    I can be contacted on email: vera.ho45@yahoo.com.hk

    Yours Faithfully,

    Vera Ho
    9 Wellington Street,
    Central, Hong Kong

    We then wrote to her to ask her to sign a costs agreement and that our costs would be such and such whereby she replied:

    Dear Alana,
    Many thanks for your response to my letter. Vance and I agreed under the Collaborative Law Agreement which I have attached for a one time cash settlement of $948,450.00. To his credit, he has paid me $60,000 but still owing $888,450 and has requested for more time over and over again. The divorce is not final and the agreement was never put before a judge because it was thought at the time that all parties would work towards meeting the terms of the agreement.

    I agreed to the terms of the agreement which is well within what Vance can pay conveniently because I didn’t want the troubles of a long trial and so that we could part ways in the best way for all it was worth. However Vance is been economical with the truth claiming a failed investment set him back financially. I however have information that this is not the case.

    I will be pleased if we could settle this without the troubles of litigation. I have advised my ex-husband that I am already in the process of retaining your services to achieve a final closure of this over-delayed payments.

    Vance has recently relocated temporarily from Australia to Toronto (I think he is setting up a business there) but Australia remains his main base. He still has property there and I believe both his personal and business accounts reside there. His address in Toronto is below:

    77 Avenue Road, Suite #601
    Toronto, Ontario
    Canada
    M5R 3R8

    I will be pleased to provide further information on this matter on request.

    If you are happy to proceed, kindly send me a copy of your retainer and if the terms are acceptable I will sign so we can commence the process without delay.

    Thank you and have a pleasant day

    Vera Ho
    9 Wellington Street,
    Central, Hong Kong

    We supplied our trust account bank account details for her to deposit monies and she said she would do so in the next week, but we are yet to receive same…..!!!!

    Thank you for advising us.

  4. Victor Clonda

    Dear Sir

    I probably receive about 10 of these a day in various forms. They are nothing but a scam, even the Collaborative Law Agreements have typographical errors and poor grammar. After reviewing the Agreement I challenged the sender and told them in no uncertain terms their inquiry was a scam. I recall the response, “Yeah, I am from Nigeria and I hate lawyers.” The moral of the story is, don’t get sucked in by these unscrupulous people.

    Victor Clonda

  5. Alana Lee

    We received this email:

    Dear Counsel,
    My name is Vera Ho and I am contacting your firm in regards to a divorce settlement with my ex husband (Vance Ho) who resides in your jurisdiction. I am currently on assignment in Hong Kong.

    We had an out of court agreement (Collaborative Law Agreement) for him to pay $948,450.00 plus legal fees in 2008, but to date he has only paid me $60,000.I am hereby seeking your firm???? assistance in collecting the balance which was agreed upon when we got into the out of court deal by either mediation or if need be by litigation.
    I can be contacted on email: vera.ho45@yahoo.com.hk

    Yours Faithfully,
    Vera Ho
    9 Wellington Street,
    Central, Hong Kong

    We also requested money to be deposited into our trust account and are still awaiting same!!

    I don’t think this scam is going to work though, because what solicitor is going to transfer money out of their trust account without the cheque being cleared???

  6. Stephen Teece

    Dear Arnold

    I have received about 4 pseudo-commercial debt recovery inquiries and about the same number of family law inquiries over the last 4 months. A request for payment of fees up front usually deals with the matter. On some probing in one family law matter, my “client” advised me that the West Australian lawyer who had previously acted for her in settling the “out of court agreement” had died, she couldn’t remember the name of the firm, and that the document had been executed by the parties in Eucla. I wonder at which truck stop, or was it at the quarantine station on the WA/SA border? When she became insistent that I need not query the background, I pointed out the inconsistencies and that I needed to be careful of scam emails. I heard nothing further from her.

    Stephen Teece

  7. Arnold Shields

    We stopped getting the majority of the Nigerian style letters when we upgraded our email scanning service. I decided to investigate the “Chipman” letter because we received a second email in the same style the following week.

    Many thanks for all your comments.

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