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The Business Loan email scam

This scam starts with initial contact from a Hong Kong email address. The contact is made by someone calling themselves “Rupert Murdoch”.

The initial email (from rupert1c@yahoo.com.hk) is headed “Legal Representative”. One example reads as follows:

“Hi Counsel,

“I provided a business loan of $578,000 to an individual (Robert Swanson) who is a Businessman and owns a company in your jurisdiction. The loan was for a fixed term of 24 months and interest rate of 7.5%. The capital and interest was supposed to be paid after maturity which was on April 19th 2010 but up till now, We have only received a portion of the loan ($168,816.90) as a substantial portion is still in default status. Let me know if you can help me in this regards.

“Best Regards

Rupert Murdoch”

If the scammer receives a response from the targeted New Zealand lawyer, a further email and attachments is sent. One example of this read as follows (exactly as written):

“Thanks for your interest in these debt recovery issue. Here is a brief explanation of issues at hand. There is a pending issue of a private loan agreement contract that was breached by my former real estate broker. The loan was for real estate investment purposes. The idea was to buy foreclosed properties, renovate them and put them back on the market to increase property value for resale.

“The interest on the loan was 7.75% for duration of one year. The loan principal was for $578,000.00. I have made attempts at requesting for payment but to no success. The downturn of the real estate market was cited continually as the reason for late payment. I personally think it will be a positive step to introduce legal pressure at this time as he relocate to your area. My ultimate goal is the collection of money owed to me with accrued interest. I intend to achieve this with minimal time and cost with mutual respect for both parties.

“Let me know what the position is with retaining your services immediately. If there is a need for me to sign a retainer agreement, please email me a copy immediately for signing. It will be most helpful to get your retainer terms before the end of business day. My most recent correspondence with Mr Swanson sounds promising but I still prefer that an attorney contact him and act on my behalf.

“I will appreciate a prompt response from you as time is of the essence.

“Attached: 3 documents.

“Rupert Murdoch.”

The attached documents are a Debt Settlement Agreement in which Robert Swanson acknowledges his debt and agrees to repay; a Promissory Note in which Robert Swanson acknowledges the debt; and an accepted letter of offer for the personal loan.

All documents are signed, but all the signatures on each are identical, even though they purport to have been signed at different times. There is also a puzzling variance in the amount of the loan (perhaps the scammer has got its targets and stories mixed up).

- As with most of these scams targeting lawyers, the intention is to secure a payment from the lawyer’s trust account to the scammer. This is usually achieved by sending a forged cheque in “settlement” to the lawyer. The cheque is deposited in the trust account and a payment is then made to the scammer.

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Last updated on the 11th May 2012