Solicitors have lost £85 million to scammers in the last 18 months

Insurance company QBE says hackers have successfully hit 150 law firms in the past 18 months with ten times that number targeted.

The insurance firm say criminals have made off with a total of £85 million in chunks of up to £1.9 million at a time.

According to the Financial Times, one high street law firm lost £173,000 in this way.

A senior partner at the firm who asked not to be named told the FT: “We absolutely trusted that this was the bank. They seduced us into thinking they were genuine bank employees.”

Only £20,000 was recovered, with the firm’s insurers covering the rest.

Elina Lusted, a claims manager at QBE, said: “We are seeing an increasing frequency. The money taken ranges from £65,000 to £1.9m. Anyone with half a brain could carry out these sorts of email scam. They are less sophisticated. High street conveyancing firms are not necessarily going to have the latest data security systems.

“The nature of how a business risk is assessed may be moving away from the typical focus on what business a law firm does (be that conveyancing, corporate, trusts and wills etc) but more to how they transact business including what security and IT systems they have in place.”

Scott Devine, Policy Adviser at the Law Society said: “Over the past six months we’ve ramped up our response in the face of increasing numbers of people falling foul of scams. I believe that some firms have come close to collapse after falling foul of these things.”

Jenny Owen, Commercial Director at Lawyer Checker said: “It’s apparent that where cases of this nature are on the rise, and Insurers are paying out more and more, they will want to increase their confidence that suitable measures are in place to protect against it.

“Over the past three years we’ve seen numerous firms face scrutiny around risk management, and particularly for the threat of cybercrime, from their Insurers. We always advise firms to make their processes, and of course their use of Lawyer Checker clear on their renewal forms.”

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