A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of Brooklyn Man Charged With Fraudulently Holding Himself Out As An Attorney
Mikhail Perlov Charged With Defrauding Unsuspecting Clients And Judges And Stealing Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars In Legal Fees; Faces Up To 7 Years In Prison
Schneiderman: My Office Will Remain Vigilant Against Fraudsters Who Target Our Immigrant Communities, Particularly At A Time Of Heightened Fear And Anxiety
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced the indictment of Mikhail Perlov for allegedly defrauding unsuspecting clients, particularly in the Russian community, by passing himself off as a licensed attorney. From 2013 to 2016, Perlov allegedly held himself out as a lawyer in New York, defrauding multiple victims of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Perlov allegedly continued his illegal practice of law despite entering into a Consent Order and Judgment with the Attorney General’s Office in September 2015, which permanently banned him from misrepresenting himself as an attorney. This 18-count indictment charges Perlov with multiple counts of felony grand larceny and scheme to defraud. If convicted, Perlov faces up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.
“This defendant has time and time again held himself out as a resource to many in the immigrant community, but instead has allegedly lined his own pockets at the expense of vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This type of fraud is particularly egregious as its preys on those who are in need of legal assistance. My office will remain vigilant against fraudsters who target our immigrant communities, particularly at a time of heightened fear and anxiety.”
According to a Petition previously filed in Kings County Supreme Court an investigation by the Attorney General’s Brooklyn Regional Office revealed that Perlov advertised himself as an “attorney at law” in Russian-language newspapers and targeted Russian-speaking victims. Perlov claimed to have a wide expertise and extensive experience practicing in New York, New Jersey and Florida courts, and offered legal services related to criminal defense, commercial disputes, accidents, domestic violence, real estate and immigration matters.
Also according to the Attorney General’s Petition, Perlov maintained an office at 2083 East 19th Street, 2nd Floor in Brooklyn, with a sign stating, “Mikhail Perlov, Esq. Attorney at Law.” He also advertised his services on a Facebook page which included phony reviews. Perlov’s advertisement on RusRek.com, the online advertising service operated by Russian-language weekly newspaper Russkaya Reklama, stated “Problems with the law?” “Under arrest?!” “Are you being accused!” “Will help with getting charges dropped, will help with getting out of jail.”
As a result of the Attorney General’s Petition, in September 2015, Perlov entered into a Consent Order and Judgment in Kings Count Supreme Court permanently enjoining him from participating or engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Pursuant to the Order and Judgment, Perlov disclosed the names of 51 of his clients and was ordered to pay over $40,000 in restitution to his victims and $10,000 in penalties.
According to the indictment filed today in Kings County Supreme Court and statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, a subsequent investigation by the Attorney General’s Office revealed that after the Order and Judgment was entered in September 2015, Perlov allegedly continued to carry on his illegal law practice. After closing his office in Brooklyn, Perlov allegedly met clients at public locations and sometimes at his home in Brooklyn. Perlov is also charged with appearing multiple times in Kings County Criminal Court, falsely representing himself to be an attorney and filing false documents.
The prosecutor further stated that in one instance, Perlov allegedly promised to win millions of dollars in a nonexistent civil lawsuit for a 78-year-old victim. Perlov allegedly showed up near the victim’s residence when he knew the victim was getting a pension check, and continually took monies from the victim for phony legal services. On occasion, Perlov himself used the victim’s ATM card to withdraw money directly from the victim’s account. Taking advantage of the victim’s unfamiliarity with the legal system and limited English, Perlov allegedly urged the victim not to tell anyone his name nor anything about the case, as it would cause the case to be delayed. The prosecutor further stated that although the lawsuit was entirely fictitious, Perlov allegedly stole over $20,000 from this victim over a two-year period for purported legal services.
The 18-count indictment, unsealed today in Kings County Supreme Court, charges Perlov with stealing over $50,000 from multiple victims between January 2013 and August 2016. Perlov is charged with one count of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a Class “D” felony), five counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class “D” felony), two counts Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (a class “E” felony), one count Practicing or Appearing as an Attorney-at-Law Without Being Admitted and Registered (a Class “E” felony), two counts of None but Attorneys to Practice in the State (a Class “E” felony), five counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a Class “E” felony) and two counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class “E” felony).
Perlov was arraigned on the indictment today before Kings County Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik. Prior to the filing of today’s indictment, the Attorney General previously arrested Perlov on a felony complaint in relation to a single victim. Bail was continued in the amount of $25,000 bond or $10,000 cash.
The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The Attorney General’s investigation of this matter continues. If you feel you have been a victim of this type of crime or if you have additional information regarding this matter, please contact the Attorney General’s office at (212) 416-8758. Russian-speaking personnel will be available for individuals who do not speak English.
Attorneys must be licensed in the State of New York by the New York State Unified Court System, Office of Court Administration. If possible, before meeting or retaining an attorney, consumers should confirm his or her license on the OCA website: iapps.courts.state.NY.us/attorney/AttorneySearch.
If you are seeking legal representation outside of New York State, contact that state’s licensing authority to confirm that the person is in fact licensed to practice in that jurisdiction.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Yana G. Knutson with the assistance of Legal Analyst Jacques Courbe of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. Assistant Attorney General Matthew S. Eubank of the Attorney General’s Brooklyn Regional Office also assisted in this investigation. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton. The Brooklyn Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General in Charge Michael Barbosa.
The investigation was handled by Investigator Anna Ospanova with assistance from Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.