You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tennessee Man Charged In Scheme To Defraud Consumers By Fraudulently Posing As An Attorney

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the arrest of JOHN LAMBERT, a/k/a “Eric Pope,” for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  LAMBERT was arrested earlier today in Bristol, Tennessee, and was presented in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated:  “As alleged, John Lambert purported to be a high-powered attorney with an elite law school degree.  However, as we allege, Lambert was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing, swindling his victims of their hard-earned money.  Now, Lambert is in need of a real attorney as he must answer for his alleged crimes.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “People typically seek the assistance of an attorney when they feel they’ve been wronged or in preparation for a significant life event that involves financial planning.  The fact that Lambert allegedly exploited those who believed he was advocating on their behalf makes his supposed criminal activity even more egregious.  While he’s not at risk of losing a law license, it doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for his actions.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint filed today[1]

LAMBERT and at least one co-conspirator perpetrated a scheme to defraud consumers of legal advice and services by falsely representing through web-based platforms for freelancing services, websites, emails, phones calls, and other means, that they were experienced attorneys who had attended elite law schools, when in fact they were not attorneys and had never attended law school.  Having misled their victims into believing they were highly qualified attorneys, LAMBERT and his co-conspirator then attempted to, and in some cases did, provide legal advice and services to their victims in exchange for which their victims paid money.

At least six individual and corporate victims paid LAMBERT for purported legal advice and services on a wide range of subjects, including issues with their credit reports, drafting a will, corporate and intellectual property law, and a dispute with a former employee.  One of the victims withdrew money from the victim’s 401(k) account to pay LAMBERT.

As alleged, LAMBERT used the alias “Eric Pope” when communicating with the victims, and falsely represented to at least some of them that he was an attorney at a law firm called “Pope and Dunn;” had attended an elite law school; was an expert in corporate, finance, and property law; had worked with hundreds of clients, including “tech moguls” and “entrepreneurs” in the United States and Europe; and was located in New York City.  But according to the Complaint, LAMBERT was not and had never been an attorney, and was not located in New York City.

*                *                *

LAMBERT, 23, of Bristol, Tennessee, has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of LAMBERT will be determined by a judge.

The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations, and LAMBERT is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Woodside Schrier is in charge of the prosecution.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
19-124
Updated April 16, 2019