By Stuart A. Heller
The very real-looking check for $295,900 payable to my law office arrived unexpectedly. It purported to be written on a Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company account with the Bank of America, was dated Dec. 15, 2011, and printed on paper with Docugard® watermarks.
It arrived via Xpresspost, a Canadian overnight courier, in a large envelope that bore a stamp indicating it was posted Dec. 14, 2011, in Concord, Ontario. How did that happen?
Last October, I received an email from AVVO.com stating that someone named Onder Omergil was interested in my legal services in a landlord/tenant matter involving property in Washington. I emailed him asking for more information.
In subsequent correspondence, he said that he was a Turkish citizen living in the United Kingdom, had entered into a written agreement with a longtime friend named Larry Ahmed Osman, who lived in Seattle, to lease farm land in Leavenworth for 10 years after he had one of his farmers confirm that the land was satisfactory.
He said he paid Osman $250,000 in cash as most of the required $300,000 total rent, shipped his farm equipment to America and then learned the land didn't belong to Osman and had been sold to another. Osman reportedly advised Omergil that the land "would not be good for him" and he was looking for more suitable property.
After about four months with no results, Omergil said he decided to retain a Washington lawyer to convince Osman to come up with other land fit for "growing vegetables and raising some animals," or to return his money, plus something to compensate him for his related damages.
I was sent a three-page Landlord-Tenant Rental Agreement in English signed by both men and a copy of Omergil's Turkish ID card containing, among other things, his picture and birth date. The agreement was missing a legal description, but could have been written by people not in the habit of working with counsel and thinking that a lot of detail wasn't necessary between friends.
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