SRA Fraud Warning
The SRA is warning firms to be vigilent and to check the internet regularly to ensure that their details are not being misused. In a warning published in their January Update, the SRA states that there has been fraudulent activity involving the “cloning” identities of bona fide firms and solicitors by criminals, who use firms’ identities to obtain money fraudulently.
The SRA reveal that in some cases, an exact copy of a firm’s name and website was used with only the contact details being changed so that at first sight, the fake website appears to be genuine. Sometimes, the difference from the genuine website is simply a missing letter or punctuation mark in the firm’s name.
The report states:
The cloned websites are used in scams, usually originating from overseas, in which individuals are asked to send money in advance. This is known as advanced-fee fraud. The criminals provide their targets with details of the cloned solicitor or firm?with false contact details. The involvement of a “solicitor” lends credibility to the transaction. Often, targets are asked to send money to the “solicitor’s” false contact details.
The SRA stresses that it is vital that all solicitors’ firms, no matter how small, are alert to this type of criminal activity?as it can damage credibility and can be difficult to rectify.
They recommend that firms regularly search for their own firm name on the internet and report any concerns as soon as possible. That report can be made to:
- the SRA Fraud and Confidential Intelligence Bureau (email@example.com),
- the local police,
- the national Action Fraud hotline (visit www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040).