On Friday, November 4, 2022, Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, filed charges for attorney discipline against Chicago attorney Abbas, Hassan Ali alleging Misconduct.

The case is entitled ‘In the matter of Hassan Ali Abbas’ and is being heard by the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Case #6206474.

The charges cited Sections 1343, 1956(a)(1)(i), 1957, and 1956(h) of Title 18 of the United States Code and Rule 1 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

The rules of professional conduct can be found here.

The following are as alleged and summarized from the filing: 

On October 21, 2021, a federal grand jury in the District of Massachusetts charged Respondent in a six-count criminal indictment with the offenses of wire fraud, money laundering, unlawful monetary transactions, and money laundering conspiracy. 

The October 21, 2021 indictment alleged that the respondent is behind what is called “romance scams” which refers to a type of fraud that is enabled by the creation of fictitious profiles on online dating or social websites and that individuals perpetuating romance scams use these online dating profiles to gain the trust of potential victims, and once that trust is gained, direct victims, to transfer money under false pretenses. A common narrative used to trick victims into a “romance scam” is to convince the victim to wire funds to cover “taxes” on nonexistent money that is to be “transferred” into their account. 

The indictment alleged that the respondent devised and executed a scheme to defraud and for obtaining money from victims using romance, BEC, and other scams to deceive the victims into wiring funds to various bank accounts controlled by the Respondent. The indictment further alleged that as part of the scheme, Respondent opened and maintained bank accounts in the names of companies with little or no legitimate business operations, and then used those accounts to receive victims’ funds. Once the victim sent the funds, the Respondent generally wired the funds to personal accounts he controlled or to foreign corporations. The victims were targeted through romance scams, BECs, and other fraudulent communications, and were deceived into transferring money to the sham corporations’ bank accounts by use of the “spoofed” email.

The filing states: 

‘The indictment alleged that “business email compromises” (“BECs”) refer to a type of fraud targeting companies that conduct wire transfers. In a BEC scam, individuals send email messages that appear to come from a colleague, vendor, or business associate making a legitimate request when, in reality, the email messages are from individuals perpetrating fraud. The indictment alleged that both romance scams and BECs frequently employ the use of “spoofed” emails that appear to originate from legitimate businesses or banking institutions. In reality, however, emails that scammers use are slight variations on the “true” email addresses, and the victims are actually communicating with the bad actors that are running the scheme. The indictment alleged that Respondent was a Belgian and Lebanese national living in the United States who maintained several personal checking accounts, including an account at PNC Bank and an account at TD Bank.’

The filing continues: 

‘The indictment further alleged that in or around 2017, Fabyan Pierro began corresponding with an individual she met on Facebook who purported to be “Wils on Brown,” a U.S. Army general. Pierro developed romantic feelings for “Wilson Brown” and began sending money to various accounts at what she believed was his direction. On or about December 7, 2017, at the purported direction of “Wilson Brown,” Pierro wrote a $60,000 check made payable to the “Phoenicia Trust, Ltd.” Pierro believed the funds were necessary in order to assure “Wilson Brown” could take an emergency vacation. Pierro deposited the check into the Phoenicia Citi account on the same day. On or about December 8, 2017, Respondent withdrew $500 from the Phoenicia Citi account via an ATM and sent an international wire in the amount of $48,000 from the same account to Ningbo Juji Import and Export Company.’

The filing further alleges that:

‘The indictment further alleged that in August 2017, Maclover Linhares and his wife Pablah Schwartz were in the process of buying a home. On or about August 22, 2017, shortly before the scheduled closing, Linhares received a spoofed email containing closing instructions from someone impersonating Linhares’s and Schwartz’s real estate attorney. The email instructed Linhares to wire his down payment to the Phoenicia PNC account. Neither Linhares nor Schwartz had ever done business with Phoenicia Trust. After receiving the wire instructions, Linhares wired $30,427 to the Phoenicia PNC account. On or about August 23, 2017, Respondent withdrew funds from the Phoenicia PNC account in the amounts of $3,000, $2,000, $2,000, $500, and $500. On August 24, 2017, Respondent sent $7,500 from the Phoenicia account to his personal account at PNC Bank. On or about August 29, 2017, Respondent sent $7,582 from his personal account to the Phoenicia PNC account.’

The Administrator respectfully requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held pursuant to Rule 761(d), and that the panel makes findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

As of today, Mr. Abbas is listed on the website of the law firm, the Law Offices Hassan A. Abbas, Hassan A. Abbas, as a practicing attorney. His info can be found online at martindale.com. He attended DePaul University, graduating in 1991. Abbas practices in Chicago, Illinois. 

A copy of the original filing can be found here.