- John Lambert, 23, has been accused of posing as a high-profile lawyer named Eric Pope.
- On Tuesday, he was arrested in New York on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
- Six of his victims have come forward, including one person who says they paid Lambert with money from their 401(k).
- However, Lambert is not a lawyer and he does not live in New York, according to the complaint.
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There’s a new grifter in town.
On Tuesday, John Lambert, a 23-year-old man from Tennessee who co-founded Students for Trump in 2015, was arrested for posing as a powerful New York attorney. According to the complaint filed by an FBI agent, Lambert is accused of pretending to be a lawyer named Eric Pope over the course of nearly two years.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, he claimed to have worked with hundreds of clients, including “tech moguls” and “entrepreneurs.”
However, according to the complaint,Lambert was not a lawyer. And he wasn’t even living in New York from August 2016 to April 2018, when the alleged scheme is said to have taken place.
At least six individuals and corporate entities are said to have paid Lambert $US16,000 for advice and legal services on a range of subjects including credit reports, drafting a will, corporate and intellectual property law, and a dispute with a former employee, according to the statement from the Southern District of New York.
At least one person, who has not been identified, paid Lambert with money withdrawn from their 401(k). In more than one case, Lambert, under the alias of Pope, would suddenly cease contact with his clients, the complaint said.
“People typically seek the assistance of an attorney when they feel they have been wronged or in preparation for a significant life event that involves financial planning,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “The fact that Lambert allegedly exploited those who believed he was advocating on their behalf makes his supposed criminal activity even more egregious. “
His scheme allegedly involved a web of fake phone numbers and fabricated profiles
In order to craft the persona of Eric Pope, Lambert has been accused of creating a website with material copied and pasted from the website of the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, New York Law Journal reports.
The website for “Pope and Dunn,” which was the law firm Lambert has been accused of operating, no longer exists. But when it did, it featured the profiles for six high-profile attorneys that were almost identical to lawyer profiles on Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s website, according to the New York Law Journal.
Lambert has also been accused of seeking clients on a “freelance platform,” as the complaint states. It’s not immediately clear if the platform referred to in the complaint is Upwork, but as of Friday afternoon, a page for a New York-based law firm called “Pope and Dunn” was still available on Upwork, as the New York Law Journal reported. It links to a now-defunct website.
The reviews on the Upwork page are mostly positive, with stats to back them up.
“Eric was great!” one reviewer wrote. “He understood exactly what I was looking for and drafted the contract. Will work with him again.”
Pope and Dunn completed 9 jobs via Upwork, earning over $US2,000, according to the site. The firm has a 75% completion rate.
Lambert is accused of working with the clients he found online over email or phone. Although he was in North Carolina, he allegedly made it seem as if he were based out of Manhattan by using fake phone numbers with New York area codes, according to the complaint.
Lambert was arrested on Tuesday on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“Lambert was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing, swindling his victims of their hard-earned money,” US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Now, Lambert is in need of a real attorney as he must answer for his alleged crimes.”
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