Sue a seller of products

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Sue a seller of products

My friend and i are looking for some legal advice and help to sue a person in Texas. We have a webshop in the Netherlands for games and video game consoles. Through Alibaba.com we came in contact with a person from the United States we think. The first contact was on may 15 2017. We ordered some video game consoles and paid for it through a bank account, a bank account of Bank of America, Wilmington DE. The person of the bank account lives in Houston, Texas. A second order we paid also through the bank account. After then we paid additional costs through Moneygram, also to this person. We paid a total that we paid a amount of more then $6600 U.S. We are scammed. The goods are never delivered and they used fake websites for us to mislead us. All the conversations were on skype text, emails and documents. We have even a address of the person who received the money. What can we do to get our money back and even a compensation of the damage they have caused. Such as our company name, labour time, physical damage. Can you give us advice what to do? Maybe a no pay no cure lawyer, because we lost all our money. And there is a second person who scammed us. He uses a fake website of an existing company name in Florida. To track him down we have a bank account, also by the Bank of America. We hope you can help us. For my friend is it a large amount of money.

Asked on July 17, 2017 under Business Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

First, be aware that if you do not have a valid physical address for this person, you cannot sue under U.S. law: all suits are initiated by "serving" (delivering in a legally approved or authorized way) the court papers physically on the defendant, generally by hand delivery (e.g. by a process server or sheriff's officer) and if you can't deliver physically, you cannot sue. You indicate you have an address, so if that is real or true address, you would have passed that hurdle.
Second, be aware that if the money was sent to an LLC or corporation, you may have a great deal of difficulty recovering: while there are ways to "pierce the corporate veil" and get at the owners behind the LLC or corporation, those are difficult and uncertain; generally, you can only sue the company, and a "scam" company will usually not have assets you can reach.
If you do elect to sue, you would need to file the lawsuit in the jurisdiction--the state and county where the defendant is located--to be sure you have jurisdicton or power over them. So if they are in TX, say, you'd sue in their county in TX.
All you can recover in a case like this is the greater of what you paid (e.g. $6,600+) or the lost profit (sales you would have made less costs of goods). You cannot recover for your time, inconvenience, damage to your name, etc. in this type of case. However, the lawsuit will be expensive: it is very unlikely that any attorney will take a $6,600 - $10,000 or so case "on contingence" (no pay, no cure, as you put it); given the amount of time that could go in and the lack of certainty that you will recover money, lawyers generally only take cases like that when you can make a viable demand for $100k or more. But if you have to pay the lawyer an hourly rate, you could spend as much or more as you will get back; and you and/or your friend would have to travel to the U.S. at least once, for several days for the trial, if the matter goes that far. Suing could cost more than it is worth.


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