Reports of money laundering, cybercrime and dubious investment schemes all on the rise
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reported that new statistics reveal that the risks posed to the public and law firms from money laundering, cybercrime and dubious investment schemes have all reached record levels.
Thet state that money laundering reports are up 67% in 15 months, £47.4m reported losses have been linked to dubious investment schemes since 2015 and £20 million of client money has been lost to cybercrime in two years.
The SRA’s annual Risk Outlook report has highlighted data which suggests criminals are increasingly targeting law firms as a means of stealing tens of millions from businesses and the wider public.
They go on to state that reports of money laundering involving firms have risen by two thirds since 2016, with 60 cases reported to them in the first quarter of 2018, compared to just 36 in the final quarter of 2016.
So far as dubious investment schemes are concerned, there have now been reported losses of £47.4m since 2015 which has led to more than 100 claims on the Compensation Fund.
Meanwhile, reports of cybercrime are also up 50% year-on-year, reaching a record level of 157 reports for 2017. These cases have brought the total reported client money stolen by cyber criminals to more than £20 million in just two years.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said:
“Our Risk Outlook helps solicitors to respond to the risks we see in the sector, supporting firms and protecting the public. Many of the risks we are highlighting are not new, but none of us can afford to be complacent.
“Although we know that very few solicitors would ever knowingly become involved in criminal or dishonest schemes, everyone needs to know the warning signs to look out for. It is important that law firms take steps to protect client money and information. Our recent warning notices on money laundering and dubious investment schemes aim to help them in this.”