Police say he claimed he was a lawyer who won a $100K case. There’s a problem with his story

Survey: Most can’t recognize scammer tactics

Washington residents aren't as good at recognizing common scams as they think, according to a new survey by the state AARP.
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Washington residents aren't as good at recognizing common scams as they think, according to a new survey by the state AARP.

A Connell man claiming to be an attorney told a client that he won a lawsuit settlement for $100,000, according to court documents.

Instead, the client lost money as he made payments to David A. Cox for representing him on two legal matters, documents show.

The Washington State Bar Association’s legal directory does not list Cox as a licensed lawyer in this state.

Now, the 49-year-old is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with second-degree theft, a felony, and unlawful practice of law, a gross misdemeanor.

Pasco police were first notified about Cox’s alleged impersonation in late March.

That’s when Detective Julie Lee unraveled the alleged scheme that included the victim unknowingly signing over power of attorney to Cox.

That document would have given Cox complete power over the man, but it was never filed with the court, Lee said.

2017 lawyer claim

Cox first identified himself as an attorney in 2017 when he told the man he would represent him in lawsuits against the man’s former employer, Darigold, and PayPal for a purchase he made, court documents said.

At some point, Cox told the client he won the lawsuit against Darigold and led the client to believe he would be receiving a $100,000 check in March 2019, documents said.

Cox, meanwhile, had asked for a retainer fee and payments over time for his services. He was paid more than $1,500 to handle both cases.

Court documents state that Cox even stopped by the workplace of his client’s mother to get a $440 payment.

Cox told Detective Lee that he never claimed to be a lawyer, and does not have a law license in Washington or work for an attorney in this state.

He said he identified himself to the man as a paralegal working under a consulting business with a certificate out of Nevada, documents said.

However, Lee’s research revealed that the consulting agency was dissolved in Nevada in 2008, and there is no active business in Washington using the same name.

The client told police he believed the power of attorney document was for the purposes of Cox representing him in the lawsuit, but that he really didn’t know what he had signed.

Lee found a power of attorney for a different person that was filed by Cox in Franklin County in 2016.

The person listed on that document had filed a police report for forgery alleging Cox opened up accounts in the victim’s name.

However, that case was closed as unfounded, in part, because of the power of attorney on record, said Lee.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.