Unfortunately, there are times when criminals will pretend to be a solicitor to scam members of the public and take their money. Fraudsters will target genuine law firms by claiming to represent a client on the other side of a transaction (such as a property purchase) or may target individuals directly by appearing to be genuine and offering to act as the individual’s legal representative. While law firms have rigorous processes in place to prevent this from happening, it is extremely important that everyone is aware of what to look out for so that together we can stop the fraudsters and uncover potential scams.
Here are some top tips* to help you identify whether the law firm that you are dealing with is genuine or bogus.
|Keep track of Scam alerts issued by the SRA.
|Satisfy yourself the firm you are corresponding with looks genuine.
Look for simple spelling errors or discrepancies on headed note paper, emails, and contact information. It could be a tell-tale sign the firm is not as legitimate as it seems.
|Think about the other firm’s telephone number
For example, if you are corresponding with a Lancashire law firm, why does it have a Romford area code?
|Question why the solicitor you are dealing with only uses a mobile phone or a generic email address
(e.g., a gmail address). It could be harmless, e.g., a sole practitioner working from home, but it could also indicate a risk.
|Exercise constant ongoing vigilance
Check all documents you receive and stay alert to any discrepancies or issues throughout the matter, e.g.:
|Question continued unexplained delays in the matter and prolonged inability to contact the person you are dealing with.
|When sending funds, check the sort code:
|Keep on top of client due diligence (CDD).
You may have completed a CDD exercise for your client, but have you checked the regulatory status of the firm you’re dealing with, e.g. via the SRA’s Law firm search facility?
|Use a search engine to search for yourself and the firm. Check online to make sure no one has copied or replicated your profile page on our website to make themselves look legitimate using the company’s or your own profile but with their contact details.
|Take this risk seriously. Ensure you are aware of the firm’s fraud prevention policies and procedures.
For more information about how you can prevent fraudsters from taking advantage of your business or advice of how to identify a potential scam please contact Risk & Compliance Manager, John Grace on 01749 342 323 or email email@example.com.
*Thanks to LexisNexis