An article in today's Miami Herald about the method Scott Rothstein used to bilk his pal Ed Morse out of millions sounds like it came straight out of some Nigerian scammer's playbook. 419 fraud, also known as "advance fee" fraud, requires that victims wire money in advance to obtain a large cash payout that never arrives. Usually the original contact arrives in the form of an email from a widowed princess from Benin or a phony barrister in Ivory Coast with an inheritance to disperse.
That's about the only difference from the way Rothstein set up Morse. Rothstein was a real lawyer, apparently, instead of just some guy posing as one. But otherwise, the game was identical. Rothstein invented a $23 million court settlement, forged federal court documents, and promised Morse access to a phony bank account in the Cayman Islands. All Morse had to do to get his hands on the money was -- guess what? Pay an advance fee.
According to the Herald:
To confiscate the money, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer allegedly told the Morses they had to post a bond 2 ½ times larger than the judgment, or $57 million, the sources said. The large amount was required as a guarantee in case bank officials confiscated the judgment from the wrong account, Rothstein told them.
The $57 million the Morses wired to Rothstein must be the biggest advance fee dupe in history. Maybe Rothstein can set up a business in the clinker offering correspondence courses for budding African fraudsters.