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We have purchased some equipment online in a pre-order from an U.S. based company. It was divided in 2 different orders: one order of 11 units (with the promise of 1 extra unit for free), and one order of 8 equal units and 2 larger and more expensive units. The two orders had different delivery times, but we were promised a maximum delivery date each, prior to purchase. The amount of money spent was enough to buy a property in our country.

The first order came with months of delay, which devalued the equipment considerably, and they were aware this would bring serious consequences for us. They also failed to deliver the promised 1 free unit together. 1 of the units came faulty, and 5 others stopped working with just a few weeks of use. When we contacted them regarding the one year warranty, our emails were simply ignored.

The second order was never delivered, and they ignored all our contact attempts. More than 2 years have passed, and we never heard from them again.

There are also other details involved, like a promised big compensation for the delay, our purchase of unneeded extra parts, the profit that was never made due to the equipment becoming obsolete with the delays and faults, and also moral damages, since this was actually my mothers' life savings, which she asked me to use to buy this equipment in order to help me. We know this purchase turned out to be a very naïve decision from our part, but this money was a considerable part of her life savings, and this brought us a lot of stress and left me depressed and unable to work for months, and since then my productivity has decreased a lot too, up to this day.

This company eventually closed, but the owner has opened other similar companies, and he closes them as needed, and keeps scamming people abroad under different company names. The information we found regarding him is that he lives a lavish lifestyle, and has scammed many other people, and even other partner companies.

The government of our country has not shown interest in helping, since we live in a underdeveloped country. The police claims this is a legal problem, rather than a criminal problem (undelivered goods, problems with warranty, etc.). We have also contacted the small claims court in the jurisdiction this individual was living (hoping we could split it in two claims, one for each order), but the answer we received was that it would require us to be personally in the United States.

Our question is: how should we proceed in hiring a lawyer in the United States without living there, since spending some months abroad would require an even larger investment from us? And considering also that we could be willing to pay or share a commission only if there is a favorable result!

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    I don't really understand your question. You call around to various law firms, and ask them if they are willing to take the case under the circumstances you've outlined. – mikeazo Jun 30 '16 at 19:54
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That's a sad story. The answer to your question is: Yes.

If your case is attractive enough then a lawyer might agree to represent it on a contingency basis. Contact lawyers in the jurisdiction where the fraudster has a physical, business, or legal presence. In the U.S. you can ask for referrals to lawyers from the state bar association, or you can call or email them or their firms directly. However, if the amount of potential damages is too small, or the prospects of collecting them too low, then you will probably not find any lawyer interested in taking the case on contingency.

If the fraudster has left many victims then you might try to pool your cases to make legal action more attractive. You also might contact the state attorneys in his jurisdictions, as they will sometimes pursue cases against serial scofflaws.

  • Grammar nitpick: not "general attorneys" but "attorneys general". – Nate Eldredge Aug 10 '16 at 22:09
  • @NateEldredge - I'm engaging in an intentional repudiation of vestigial French compound nouns. – feetwet Aug 10 '16 at 22:42
  • But "general attorney" already has the meaning of "attorney without any particular specialty", completely different from "head of government justice department". I foresee confusion. "Surgeon general" versus "general surgeon" is even worse. – Nate Eldredge Aug 11 '16 at 17:17
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    @NateEldredge - Good point. Unlike most examples, this one does present a little confusion, so I'll go with "state attorneys" for now. ("Surgeon general" does seem to be the worst; but that title is just nonsensical given that the officeholders need have no training as surgeons.) – feetwet Aug 11 '16 at 19:24
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You can hire a lawyer from abroad, and if you look around enough, you can likely find a lawyer willing to take your case on a contingent basis -- but please understand that it may be a challenge to find one given the facts at issue, the time since this happened, and the challenges of litigating with you overseas. In terms of how to do so, I would reach out either to the bar association of the state in which you would plan to bring your action or to the American Bar Association's lawyer referral directory (which can then direct you to the particular referral service applicable to your matter).

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Write off your money and get on with your lives

If, as you say, the company has been wound up, there is no money to get at. Unless you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the owner defrauded you or operated the company illegally, you have no recourse against the former owner.

  • Doesn't the fact that he failed to deliver the second order and fled with the money prove that he defrauded us? I forgot to mention he opened other companies in other states in the U.S., to avoid legal problems, because the number of people he scammed was many. – anon Jun 29 '16 at 14:11
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    Your beef is with his company; companies fail all the time - generally there is no wrongdoing by the directors/owners. – Dale M Jun 29 '16 at 18:45
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    There is no need for beyond a reasonable doubt. You can prove fraud by preponderance of the evidence. (In a civil case). – Viktor Jun 30 '16 at 20:23

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