Lawyer vs Client: Who scammed whom?

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In 2012, she had big dreams. She had traveled several times between Saint Lucia and the United States and was now looking forward to finally settling down on her native island and creating for herself and her family a stable environment.

She planned to purchase farmlands and start a farming project. Juliette “Gigi” McFarlane told the STAR she was very excited about her future.

“After looking around,” she recalled “I took a special interest in some five acres of land with a few mature trees at Cacao, Babonneau.”

She talked over her ambition with a friend whose husband is an attorney.

“She told me that he would help me sign off on the purchase,” Gigi recalled. “I have a lawyer whom I have dealt with before, but I decided to give my friend’s husband a try. One morning after talking to his wife, the lawyer called me.”

The early morning call took Gigi by surprise. She caught herself wondering about his eagerness. What she was proposing wasn’t such a big deal, after all.

On March 12, 2013, Gigi says, a cheque was written by the bank to her friend’s husband, in the sum of EC$120,000 for the purchase of the land, plus EC$4,800 in tax fees. Gigi believed she was now one step closer to realizing her dream. Harsh reality soon hit her.

“On Easter Monday of 2013,” Gigi recalled, “I got a call from the attorney. He said he no longer had my money, since his account had been defrauded. Of course, I could not understand what he was saying, so I asked him to explain. He said, quite calmly, that someone with access to his firm’s accounts had cleaned out his clients’ account. He said he hoped to get the money back from his insurance.”

Some friends advised Gigi to call the bank. She did so the next day. She met the branch manager and a loans officer. They placed a conference call with the attorney in question.

“They too had a hard time following what the lawyer told them,” Gigi told the STAR, “so they asked him to put in writing what had happened and submit the report to the bank.”

Following the conference call, Gigi went to see the lawyer. He seemed unconcerned in the circumstances. “I was going out of my mind,” she revealed. “He tried to calm me down and assured me that everything would be resolved in a matter of weeks, since his insurance was going to cover his claim. But I just wanted my money.”

She called her friend, the lawyer’s wife, who tried to assure her that everything would be okay. One year later, Gigi still has not received a penny from the lawyer.

“In the meantime I am paying a mortgage and I have no idea when I am going to get my money back,” Gigi told the STAR.  She made a report to the police a year or so ago but they offered little comfort.

We contacted the lawyer at the center of the matter. Henry Joseph repeated to us the story he had told Gigi.  He added that some time last year a number of chambers had been defrauded, including his own.

“The difference is that we are the only ones taking the matter to court,” he said. Taking whom to court?

We asked whether he fully appreciated Gigi’s situation. “Well,” he said, “the matter is in court. You know how the court process goes. We are now awaiting a hearing date. There is nothing more we can do.”

Gigi has engaged the services of another lawyer whom she told the STAR has filed a case against Henry Joseph. She, too, is awaiting a court date. Meanwhile Gigi finds herself deeper and deeper in debt.

“If this man [Joseph] had at least made some attempt to give me back my money a little at a time, I would have understood. Right now, the land I wanted to purchase is no longer available. I am now unemployed, with a mortgage I cannot pay. What a nightmare.”

 

In Next Weekend’s STAR: Were local lawyers really scammed or are some of them operating their own con game at the expense of trust clients like Gigi?

 

Share your feedback with us.

20 Responses to Lawyer vs Client: Who scammed whom?

  1. Jap says:

    Why did the bank release the money when the loan was not secured on the property. because if you are unable to pay a mortgage the bank usually take the property and sell it to recover their money. So on what strength or what was the money secured on.
    Scam going on somewhere

  2. chichi says:

    The Bar should strip him of his title so that he does not practice law any more. He is one lucky dude because if he had scammed me of my life savings I would be before a judge and he would hearing the waves hit the Choc beach.

  3. tonimiya says:

    Now thats messed up. It is obvious just by reading this article that this so called lawyer took the money. It is ironic that as soon as he got this lady’s money that some fraudulent activity took place on his account.

  4. Mkaks says:

    And you wonder why people take matters into their hands at times, Here this lady is going crazy about how she is going to survive, you think this scum bag has lost any sleep knowing what he did to that lady was wrong. Now his wife he if she was this lady’s friend she would not have allowed that to happen, go on for so long she should have helped resolve it. People be careful who your friends are for money always brings out the true colors in people. Love many trust few.

  5. Rp says:

    Is the attorney she hired to go against Mr. Joseph another Lucian attorney?

  6. sad-woman says:

    I really feel sad for her, in life there ia no friendship with you money, she did her friend a favor by giving her husband a job, but the friend is no longer a friend to her today am sure… sad but true, I worked for a lawyer so trust me I know…. they are the biggest scam artist you will ever find!!!

  7. Pavan Gavaskar says:

    What do you have when 100 lawyers are buried up to their neck in sand?
    – Not enough sand.
    Seem to me Gigi is the only one who got screwed. In typical “local lawyer” fashion the lawyer is going about business in a narcissistic manner. There are insufficient controls on those guys and that kind of behavior is nothing new to many of us. Luckily, Gigi used the press to air her scam. Unfortunately, most people fight this rip on their own. Good luck girl, it is going to be one tough fight to get your dough back.

    A lawyer is a gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it for himself. – Lord Brougham

  8. Pam Popo says:

    St. Lucian lawyers taking money not belonging to them, has happened before. I know of a case where a well known female lawyer took a clients money. The fact that the client was related to her husband did not bothered her one bit.
    I agree with the blogger above who suggested that the law should be changed.
    Come on Allen this is one for your party to include in your manifesto. Well done Toni for writing the article.

  9. Furious says:

    Sad case indeed…..A lawyer he’s not. I wish she would put he’s address,picture, phone # and office address plastered all over St.Lucia for everyone to see. That looser should have no business handling another persons money. He should join the STEP programme to earn his daily bread.

  10. chichi says:

    That is a problem with buying and selling property in ST. Lucia that needs to be stopped. The checks should never be made to the lawyers. If I am buying land from you I should write the check to name of the seller and write a separate check to the lawyer for his services. I know of this man who sold his estate, Mr. Mike waited for six months for his money, while his money sat in the lawyers account accumulating interest for him. This is robbery and the banks need to stop that practice.

  11. truth says:

    Lucian lawyers are a joke. The whole nation would benefit by introducing and enforcing stricter standards of practice. It would be good to see some lawyers struck off for poor practice. That might encourage the others.

  12. Woodsman says:

    Gosh. sorry about your nightmarish plight Gigi. I sincerely hope you get your money back. Sadly this is the norm in cesspool Saint Lucia – the land of crooked cops, lowlife lawyers, perverted politicians and a complete joke of a “justice system.”

  13. MKaks says:

    white collar crime,bawbawl is just as bad as the violence and is a serious problem crippling our society. For some reason our small country has way to many lawyers and the lavish lifestyles that some associate with this profession is just a fantasy as such some of them are turning into con men/women to fuel their fantasy lifestyle. This is not the first story I’ve heard like that and I doubt its going to be the last. What is alarming though is how we as a society just accepts it as if they have immunity, just ridiculous.That sounds like fraud to me cause how can they hack into your account and the bank not be aware, he should be disbarred.(volair)

  14. Greg says:

    pay some one to beat his behind

  15. Plumbcentre62@yahoo.com says:

    I’ve heard about this before why is the bank transferring money to the lawyers .he is not the mortgage or lender. In the uk money is transfer. To the sellers accounts .but the lawyer handle the transfer.can the government change the law.when the money is transferred to the seller then the lawyer signs the contract.someone told me a story like this before.he should go to prison for this.i as scammed by a Guyanese lawyer in 2005 .i don’t have no respect for some lawyers

  16. SLU #1 says:

    IU’d assume that the lawyer’s accounts were at Banks, whether local or international, and if this is so the bank can verify whether their accounts were compromised. If the accounts were compromised or defrauded as the lawyer claims, then the insurance would pay. Why the need for court proceedings and why is his insurance taking so long to settle ? I can’t imagine being in her situation but I smell a HUGE RAT !!!! Like the Chinese say : SOM TING WONG!!!

  17. dee says:

    I doubt the lawyer was scammed…OMG I’m pretty sure they’re choosing who their victims are gonna be….

  18. Beedie Baba says:

    St. Lucia is a lawyers paradise, they are like oxygen or should I say ticks on a dying cow, everything requires some stupidness with an avoca, especially de land business. You have to be very smart when doing business in St. Lucia, don’t be paranoid but trust no one.

    • Concern says:

      So this bank can’t verify if this is true and they keep making her pay the mortgage some shit happen to me a few years ago but not by a lawyer it was a contractor who the loan officer gave the last check before he finish the job ,so I was to pay the loan and lose my money this is crazy

      • Beedie Baba says:

        St. Lucia is the testing grounds for all corruption and money scams in the world. Our people were blessed in being very smart, but for some reason we enjoy exploiting others to get ahead. It might be possible that anything can be changed in the bank’s records just as in the Government Registry. Maybe the right inside people I would guess, I am just imagining this and not saying that this is the case.

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