Watch out for James Gilliard of South Carolina

New Zealand lawyers are still being targeted by an email scam which purportedly seeks recovery of a debt from a New Zealand company.
The email says it has been sent by a “James D. Gilliard” of South Carolina, a state in the United States. Sometimes the email is accompanied by a scanned copy of a driver’s licence issued by South Carolina and with a photo of “Mr Gilliard”. 

Most versions of the scam include a document entitled “Loan Agreement Promissory Note”. This purports to document a loan made by the kind Mr Gilliard to a New Zealand company – often at $480,000 at 8.5% interest. The entire amount is, of course, immediately payable on demand after a specified date (always in the past). 

Full payment is required within 10 days, after which the note may be turned over for collection – and this is where the New Zealand lawyer comes in. The “borrower” also agrees to pay “all reasonable legal fees and collection charges”.

If you receive such an email, don’t be fooled. The business which “owes” the debt is almost certainly genuine (or was once genuine) but has never heard of Mr Gilliard or ever borrowed the money. The whole scam aims to end up with the New Zealand lawyer depositing a bank cheque which has apparently been drawn on a reputable bank. The cheque is, of course, a forgery.

Incidentally, James Gilliard appears to be a name used by some people based in a country called Nigeria.