According to a survey by Avast, 56% of Russians have encountered fraudulent phone offers. The annoying crooks call people with a variety of proposals and are increasingly aggressively offering legal services. However, one can encounter pseudo-lawyers, nowhere registered legal offices and other dubious characters from jurisprudence today in many places. So, recently in Belgorod, a whole law firm was put on the wanted list, which had been deceiving the residents of the city for several years. Izvestia understood the problem.
Over the past year, Russians have become more likely than residents of other countries to suffer from telephone fraud, including those associated with legal services. In Russia, a record 37% of citizens fell victim to telephone scammers over the past year, 56% just faced them.
– The main weapon of attackers is assertiveness and persuasiveness, they call thousands of phone numbers, and even if one subscriber falls for the bait and pays money or gives out data with which money can be stolen, their efforts will pay off, – says Alexey Fedorov, head of Avast’s representative office in Russia and the CIS. – During a conversation, attackers use various tricks and approaches to convince a person to send them money or give out their personal data.
Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Bednyakov
In Russia, three categories of legal services are distinguished: legal services as such, legal services provided on the basis of the law on the legal profession, and legal services provided by specialized public organizations for the protection of consumer rights, the deputy head of the Federal State Supervision Department in in the area of consumer protection of Rospotrebnadzor Andrey Puchkovsky.
The safest way is to seek the help of a lawyer. You can check whether the powers of a lawyer have been terminated through the website of the regional bar association or on the website of the Ministry of Justice. Many believe that the services of a lawyer will be very expensive, but in reality, the amount of the fee may be no more than the payment for the work of a “regular” law firm.
It is safe enough to contact public organizations that help citizens in disputes related to the protection of consumer rights.
“Of course, even among this group of organizations there may be some who are not very conscientious,” says Andrey Puchkovsky. – All “white” public organizations can be checked on the websites of Rospotrebnadzor. Such organizations have registration of the Ministry of Justice, their own office. Of course, this does not give a 100% guarantee, but it still reduces the likelihood that you will fall into the hands of scammers.
Finally, there is a third format – a legal company. “This is a completely legal business, and it is not subject to licensing,” explained Puchkovsky.
According to the official, dubious businessmen can be recognized by the following signs.
– First, if the company calls you itself. Strongly invites you somewhere. Such luring to yourself must definitely alert. At the same time, fraudsters are very fond of assuring that they have various “outlets” for the “necessary” people in the government.
Then, scammers usually require an advance payment. The first question that a person applying for legal services should ask: where is your price list and what will be the preliminary estimate for resolving my question? A legal company always provides information about itself, its tariffs, and its employees.
Photo: Izvestia / Konstantin Kokoshkin
Experts recommend not to rush to conclude an agreement for the provision of legal services at all, but to take a short time-out – to think, to consult with relatives and friends.
But if an agreement with dishonest lawyers has already been rashly concluded, then you should not give up. You can do the following: make a pre-trial claim; apply to Rospotrebnadzor, to the prosecutor’s office, to the court; to the Chamber of Advocates – if the fraudulent lawyers are lawyers. Finally, if there are signs of fraud in the actions of unscrupulous lawyers, then it is better to immediately go with a statement to the police.
Disguise and pressure
Fraudsters like to disguise themselves as government agencies. “They can be represented by Mospotrebnadzor or Potrebnadzor, – says the head of the company” Bayborodin and partners “Alexander Bayborodin – The task of the” telephonists “is to lure you into the office, where professional psychologists will take care of you.”
Law firms that provide overpriced “air” services are increasingly renting an office closer to the city center or district, says Sergey Solovyov, founder and partner of the law firm Bugrov and Partners. The goal of such companies is not to get a positive result for the client, but rather to provide sometimes completely useless services at a higher price. Therefore, you should never neglect checking your potential representatives.
– You can check it yourself on the FTS website by requesting an extract from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities or USRIP. You can check the website of the district court at the company’s registration address, – says Solovyov. – On the website of the court, in the tab “litigation”, you can enter the TIN or OGRN of the organization and see if there are claims against this company from other clients. Check the companies in the database of the Federal Bailiffs Service (fssp.gov.ru) Maybe someone has already won a court case with fraudsters and is collecting money for services that were not rendered and poorly rendered.
Do not trust specialists who promise a “100% guaranteed” result. More chances to win a case with a competent lawyer who will objectively weigh the pros and cons and honestly explain the prospects.
“Cheaters like to promise to achieve results in the shortest possible time,” says Yulia Ramzenkova, a member of the Russian Bar Association. “But practicing lawyers know that the trial takes quite a long time. It is impossible to clearly define the time frame for resolving the case. In addition, scammers offer free legal aid without providing it objectively. Often the initial consultation is free of charge and is associated with an offer to conclude a service contract. And sometimes it happens that with the simultaneous signing of an act on the allegedly completed work.
According to Ramzenkova, fraudsters are always in a hurry to conclude an agreement and do not give the client the opportunity to really get acquainted with the text of the document. This behavior suggests that, most likely, the lawyer is not going to fulfill the terms of the contract, and his only goal is to get money as soon as possible.
– In order not to become a victim of such scammers, you do not need to conduct telephone conversations, no matter who the interlocutor introduces, adds Ramzenkova. – It is not worth making money transfers if an agreement has not been concluded with an attorney or lawyer. If, nevertheless, you encountered fraudulent lawyers and entered into an agreement with them for the provision of legal services, having paid them money, then it is worth writing complaints to Rospotrebnadzor, to the prosecutor’s office, and also to the court.
At the first suspicion that the services are not being provided or their quality did not suit the customer, the citizen has the right to terminate the contract and demand the return of part of the amount for the services that were not provided. “Protection of rights in this case is carried out in the manner prescribed for consumers: a written statement (notification) about the refusal of services – a written claim with requirements, followed by a claim method of defense,” said Alexander Inoyadov, a spokesman for the Moscow Bar Association.
According to experts, fraudsters like to use legal terms (“prejudice”, “vindication claim”, “appeal”, “unjust enrichment”, etc.) without explaining their meaning. This is done to create the appearance of “professionalism” in the eyes of the potential victim. Seeing that a person does not understand the essence of the issue, a fraudster can commit absolutely useless actions from the point of view of legal meaning and benefit for the client, but immediately after these actions are completed, an act of service is signed.
It is important to understand that legal services are a specific area where recommendations and personal contacts primarily work, recalls Pavel Katkov, a representative of Katkov and Partners. “Make friends with this or that lawyer, because the legal profession is one big caste where colleagues can recommend each other,” Katkov summed up.
In addition, as Olga Vlasova, Chairperson of AA MGKA Vlasova and Partners, reminded, the initiative to conclude cooperation agreements between the MFC and the Chambers of Lawyers, which organize consultation of citizens by lawyers directly in the premises of the MFC, may become a positive factor.
The lack of funds also cannot be a reason for despair. The law provides for the possibility of citizens receiving free legal aid both from the state and from non-state organizations.
Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Bednyakov
– Participants of the state system of free legal aid are state legal bureaus, lawyers, participants in the non-state system – legal clinics and non-state centers of free legal aid, – explained the Ministry of Justice.
Information about all non-state free legal aid centers operating in the regions is posted on the official website of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
In addition, at present, the Ministry of Justice and the Scientific Center for Legal Information under this ministry are working on the creation of a subsystem “Unified State Portal of Legal Education and Free Legal Aid” of the federal state information system of legal aid.