As a China lawyer, I hate Decembers. I love them because they are always one of our firm’s busiest months (which is true in spades this year), but I hate them because they are also the month when we get the most contacts regarding frauds and scams (which is also true in spades this year).  December is fraud month because that seems to be when Chinese companies seem to decide whether they plan to continue operating as a viable business or not and oftentimes those who choose “not,” will decide at the same time to go out with all guns blazing. December is also a great month for consumer scams coming out of China.

I hate getting the scam/fraud calls because 99 times out of 100, the best we can do for the caller is to tell them to be more careful the next time; it just does not make sense to pay a lawyer to chase a phantom. 

Here is a composite of the latest one we have been seeing:

You are a United States company that buys its product from China. You are really in a rush to get your product in time for the Christmas season so maybe you are not being as careful as you usually are. You get a call from someone who purports to be from your China manufacturer (and this person probably is). They tell you that they have changed bank accounts due to “tax reasons” or because of “a government loan” and ask you to please make your next payment to the new account. You want your product and you want it fast and so you do so. Then the company calls you a few days later and says it will not ship you your product until you pay it. You then call a law firm who tells you that you have a really really difficult case and who are you going to sue? The company who you never paid and can with a very straight face say they have no clue who called you about the new bank account and why the hell did you pay some person so much money who you do not even know? Or the person you just paid who probably barely exists by this point? 

Be careful out there.

Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.