SRA Issue 217 Scam Alerts Last Year And Three Last Week
The SRA have confirmed that at least three more law firms’ details have been stolen by fraudsters in the past week alone.
Two of the fraudulent attempts used spoofed websites in order to convince unsuspecting members of the public to part with their money by instructing and paying the bogus firm. One additional fraud has utilised the ancient art of sending a formal physical letter to elicit fake business opportunities. What makes these frauds so convincing is the fact that genuine firm names, genuine SRA regulated solicitors and even genuine SRA ID numbers were used in two of the scams; highlighting the sophistication and detail used in the social engineering methods.
The SRA were alerted to a website using the alias of ‘colemansolicitors.com’ who were falsely claiming to be a London and Norfolk based solicitors. In fact, the SRA regulate a Berkshire based firm, ‘Coleman Solicitors LLP,’ operating using the domain ‘www.colemans.co.uk’ and ‘[email protected]’.
In addition to stealing the name of a firm, the unscrupulous criminal’s website had also pilfered and used pictures and names of SRA regulated solicitors. The names of Lindsay Little, Elizabeth Collyer, Brynley Clarke, Nicola Lucking, Timothy Quint and Andrew Nicholson were used in the scam; all of whom are regulated by the SRA and work for a variety of firms.
Additionally, the SRA ID Number for Capron & Helliwell Solicitors was used by the fraudsters.
Similarly, in a less slick scam, a website pertaining to be Leicestershire based law firm, Stephen Colgate Solicitors, using the web address, ‘www.stephencolgate-solicitor.co.uk’, was used to lure members of the public into instructing the full service firm. However, it does not exist and the named solicitor is not regulated by the SRA.
The letter, claiming to be ‘Witney & Mason Solicitors LLP’, misuses a genuine firm and names genuine solicitors whilst trying to fool the public.
All of the information used in the scams could be legitimate and freely accessible information. It is conceivable that these people could have worked for the spoofed and fake solicitors, making it extremely difficult to ascertain how to spot the signs of fraudulent law firms.
The SRA and CLC are working tirelessly to reduce this risk. They have already introduced an interactive digital badge, preventing criminals from copying a legitimate site as the genuine badge will link to an SRA page, verifying the firm for the consumer. This badge was a legal obligation from April.
However, the SRA issued 217 scam alerts for the year 2017/18 and 237 the year before this. When almost one scam per day is spotted by the SRA, the shear persistence of criminals exploiting the legal sector becomes clear.
How concerning are these scam alerts? Has your firm been spoofed? Are you worried that cyber criminals are using your personal details to front their fraudulent attacks?