A Mississauga woman who accepted thousands of dollars to perform legal services has been ordered by court to pay it back.
Natasha Mohammed, also known as Lee Mohammed, is facing a $10,500 small claims court judgment after a judge found she took the money even though she is not a lawyer or paralegal.
“I had no idea the woman was not licensed,” said Kaushalya Seeram, a Toronto woman who hired Mohammed three years ago to represent her in a legal matter.
“Did she claim to be a lawyer? Yes, no question about it.”
Seeram has won legal judgements to obtain a refund, but Mohammed has so far refused to repay any money.
When Global News caught up with Mohammed after a court appearance in Brampton recently, she denied wrongdoing.
“I did not lie to her, I did not,” she said, in response to questions about how she represented herself to Seeram.
Lawyers and paralegals in Ontario are governed under rules of the Law Society of Upper Canada, which regulates the profession.
Allison Cheron, a manager with the society, says it’s easy for clients to check and see if someone is licensed to practice in the province.
“There’s a directory on our website that they can search by first name or last name,” said Cheron, who added that the society takes seriously allegations involving people who pretend to have credentials.
But one paralegal who approached Global News outside court said he’s aware of others who have inappropriately claimed to be qualified and licensed.
“To be honest with you, it happens every day,” said Tabish Azadah, a licensed paralegal.
“I’m not too sure if the law society can do anything because they mainly regulate licensed paralegals and licensed lawyers.”
When Global News called to verify Azadah’s credentials, we found out that he is under administrative suspension and not legally allowed to work at this time. Azadah said he will be in compliance in a few days after he submits some required paperwork to the society.
As for Mohammed, she has offered to pay Seeram $4,000 to deal with the outstanding debt. But Seeram says she wants the full amount, given the small claims court judgment against Mohammed and the stress of the last three years trying to get justice.
“I can’t sleep, I can’t concentrate. Because I borrowed that money to pay her. She was aware I borrowed that money to pay her.”