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Posts Tagged ‘419 nigerian scam’

Careful with Scammers Posing as Spanish Lawyers

March 18th, 2009

who is this businessmanWithin the last year we’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of queries regarding the legitimacy of certain Spanish law firms and lawyers. These companies are in fact non-existent and act only as shelter companies devised to fleece foreigners offering them dubious legal services often related to some murky financial interest, which is in the end nothing but some sort of advance fee fraud (http://en NULL.wikipedia Foreigners should be well advised that these scammers pass themselves off as legitimate Spanish law firms and lawyers. They prey exclusively on foreigners and are in fact not even Spanish themselves. Their command of English is very good.

Spanish lawyers belong to one of the numerous Bar Associations that sprawl throughout Spain. There are a total of 83. Every lawyer member of a BA will have a registered number. It is very easy to check in less than a minute if a Spanish lawyer is legitimate, providing he is in fact registered of course.

These fraudsters will always contact you to offer legal assistance in some service of which you by chance are the sole lucky beneficiary. The potential reward to reap is huge (hundreds of thousands if not millions) in exchange of a reasonable legal fee which in comparison doesn’t seem like much. The preffered contact method is email (which they may follow up by ordinary post), and they will offer you either of the following legal “services”:

  1. Letting you know that after a long and winding investigation it has surfaced that you are the sole live beneficiary of a considerable Spanish inheritance from some distant relative you had in Spain (unbeknown to you) that has sadly passed away.
  2. Offering you to join group actions to recover deposits from bogus resale time share companies in ongoing court proceedings (Reclaim Certificates (http://www NULL.thisismoney NULL.html?in_article_id=401923&in_page_id=19&in_author_id=5)).
  3. Notifying you that you have won the Spanish Lottery (despite never having played it) or that you have been selected in a random draw and are now the lucky beneficiary of a special promotion from the generous Spanish Lotto Administration.
  4. Contacting you regarding using your bank account, in exchange of a sizeable commission, for some million dollar bank transfer with origin in some dodgy place in Africa. This is known as the Nigerian Letters.
  5. Offer to assist you in the verification and payment of unclaimed funds located in Spain of which you happen to be the only beneficiary.

An example of enquiries about such bogus firms are the following:

  • Martinez e Beneficio (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=117)
  • Alberto Ganez Y Socio (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=155)
  • Perez, Gonzalez and Associates (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=97) & Perez, Carrera and Associates (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=97)

Our recommendation, as always, is to never ever pay moneys upfront if you have the slightest suspicion about the legitimicay of the people you are dealing with.

We have compiled a list of bogus law firms (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=382)which is continously updated.

Other interesting related links:

  • Protecting Yourself from Pyramid or “Ponzi” Schemes – 21st February 2009
  • Fraudulent sell of shares from Spain – Boiler rooms (http://www NULL.fsa NULL.shtml) UK FSA’s link.
  • Timeshare resellers: Be careful! (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers – 23rd of August 2001
  • Lottery Fraud: Yet Another Scam (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers – 24th September 2001
  • Is the ‘El Gordo Lottery Sweepstake Company’ a genuine company? (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers
  • European Mediation Limited (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=77)
  • Bogus Holiday Club Membership (mostly in Canaries) (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=365)

Litigation , ,

9 Tips on How to Determine if an Offer is a Scam

October 17th, 2008

We are receiving a dozen queries every day asking about the legitimacy of certain offer, generally received by email or over the phone after a cold call. Unfortunately, we cannot analyze case by case, and therefore will provide a set of useful hints which will help you evaluate the legitimacy of the company or individual yourself.

The list below is provided in no particular order:

  1. Is the domain name old enough? By means of a Whois (http://www NULL.whois search you can find out when the domain name was registered. If it’s only a few weeks old, be suspicious.
  2. Are they using mobiles? – If the phones used as contact numbers are mobile numbers instead of land lines, it’s definitely not a good sign. In Spain, mobile numbers start by +34 6..
  3. Have you been contacted out of the blue? – If you where cold called, or received an email from someone you don’t know, ask yourself why these people have your contact details.
  4. Are you being requested to pay money upfront? This is the single most worrying point if it comes in conjunction of with one or more of the above.
  5. Is the offer too good to be true? If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  6. Is the company properly registered? – Although it’s something positive if they can provide you with company registration details, you shouldn’t give this point too much importance. Fraudsters have been registering companies for decades with the sole purpose of deceiving (e.g. dozens of companies where incorporated by fraudsters to conduct the infamous Timeshare Resale Scam (http://www NULL.lawbird
  7. Is the address for their offices correct? – Not sure why, fraudsters tend to provide you with fake addresses which don’t really exist. Check any of the online street directories and find out if the address provided is correct.
  8. Something strange about their names? Funny names such as “Woley Fernandez” or “Barrister Perez Santos ESQ” are names made up by Nigerians conducting 419 advance fee scams (http://www (the terms “Barrister” or “ESQ” don’t exist in Spanish law). Also, fraudsters tend to cite fake organisms such as “The Ministry of Finance” or “The Security Company”.
  9. What others are saying – Use search engines to find information about the company. Try putting the company in inverted comas, and add terms like “scam” or “fraud”. The company or individual you mention might have already been reported online as fraudsters by other people.

Needless to say, the above list shouldn’t be taken as definitive, nor the absolute legitimacy o illegitimacy of a company established based on one or more of the above points. You can use it, however, to personally evaluate the risk of the transaction.

My recommendation is that you never pay any moneys upfront if you have been contacted out of the blue. However, if you have to, before doing so always suggest the use of an escrow company (chosen by you) to hold the funds until the product or service has been delivered. If they refuse, I recommend that you back off.

Always remember; have a lawyer analyze the transaction before making any up-front payments.

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