THE CASE OF THE FAKE LAWYER

Posted on Posted in Investigations
April 5, 2016
By Private Detective Fernando Alvarez
DIARIO LAS AMERICAS
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Scammers have no respect or shame, but they have much creativity to confuse their victims. This case demonstrates why anyone should not be trusted and much less when one is in the middle of a desperate situation.
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An old customer called me and told me the following: “A friend of mine and I bought a business a while ago and we are trying to improve it but we have certain serious problems where we need the help of a lawyer to solve them and we have to move fast. My friend met Antonio (name changed), a lawyer, in a social event of entrepreneurs, those where business cards are exchanged. My friend explained the situation we need to resolve and Antonio explained the steps he needed to take and the cost of his help, $5,000. My friend thought it was a very good idea and when he mentioned it to me we agreed to hire Antonio’s services, since his fees were cheaper than other lawyers. The next day we called him to have an appointment in his office, conveniently located near the court, but he was on his way to our area and invited us to meet in a well known restaurant. During the meeting he did not give me a good feeling, I do not know, but I just could not trust Antonio. I think he realized my distrust and that’s why he reduced his fees to $4,000. My friend, desperate to solve the problems of the business, accepted the offer and made the payment by check. I just want to know if this man is a serious lawyer, if he specializes in business law and if he does not have any complaint against his license. “
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Today the internet offers a high range of online services, free and paid, which allow you to verify certain information about people and companies. Most of these sites have outdated information or information about other people and companies with the similar names. It is always advisable to use these sites, but we must be sure that we are investigating the correct person; you have to look beyond appearances and look at the small details. Private detectives use databases, contacts and more developed strategies to reach the bottom of each case, each situation and of course of each fraud.
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My client’s request was not difficult, because it was basically a question of verifying the reputation and background of a professional. We started by verifying his lawyer’s license and it was active and without penalties in the bar association. We also checked his civil and criminal background, and it was clean. The only thing that caught our attention was the office address where our clients were going to meet Antonio did not match the address of the office registered in the bar association nor in the web site of that lawyer, neither the telephone number was the same. I know that many lawyers have more than one office and more than one phone number but normally they have that information updated on their web pages. These kinds of information conflicts create doubts and require more inquiries.
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We proceeded to verify and to obtain photos of the lawyer that appeared in the records of the bar association and also of the person with whom my clients hired, and it turned out that they were not the same person. We send a photo of the real lawyer to the client and a few minutes later he called and told me “No, that’s not Antonio; you are investigating the wrong person.” While we were talking on the phone I sent the photograph of the other person and he replied “yes, this is Antonio”. I told him “Bingo, case solved! Let me explain you, the first picture is the real lawyer; the second is of a thief who is posing as a lawyer and unfortunately you fell into his trap. This afternoon you will have the results.” The client sighed deeply, his suspicions were true, but it was a bit late.
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The crook, posing as a lawyer, had the same name and surname as the real lawyer. The leasing office was formerly used by another lawyer and was still listed on the internet as a law firm, thus giving more confidence to the victims of this con artist. The crook did not deposit the check but cashed it on the bank of my client and of course his driver’s license was registered. The background of this subject confirmed that he had several cases of fraud in the past and that he had been arrested for armed robbery. Apparently during his stay in prison he learned a lot about legal issues and also how to speak as a lawyer. Although this swindler was still on parole, he did not mind cheating and wreaking havoc. My client reported him to the police, the bar and the lawyer. A few days later this subject was arrested again because there were several complaints against him for similar scams. Although justice was done in this case, my clients were unable to recover their $4,000 and they still needed a lawyer to solve their legal problems.
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For your own sake, always be suspicious. Never hire a lawyer or any professional without first checking their credentials. Meet them in their office and be sure to sign a contract. Never make decisions under pressure, because despair is blind and does not let you think clearly. Use the internet to inquire and verify the professionals you are going to hire; protect your money and avoid unpleasant surprises.
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Beware of fraud, but if you need help, call me at 1-866-224-1245 or visit me at www.drakonx.com