Current fraud alerts

Ongoing VAT register scam targeting solicitors - 25 October 2016

We are aware that Scottish law firms are being contacted as part of an ongoing scam relating to a VAT register.

The scam, which typically involves correspondence sent by fax, invites companies to confirm their VAT details and to be added to a ‘European Central Register for the Collation and Publication of VAT Registration Numbers’

In one recent example, a Scottish law firm received a fax like this from a company calling itself 'European Database Services Ltd' with an address in Vienna.

There is information available about how to report fraud and internet crime.

Attempted email fraud targeting a Scottish law firm - 14 September 2016

We have received reports of yet another case of an email scam targeting the Scottish legal profession.

The most recent case reported to us involved a solicitor receiving an email made to look like it came from a client. The client’s email account had been cloned and the email address used was very similar to that of the client.

The fraudulent email instructed that a payment be made to a new bank account.

In this case, when the scammer didn’t receive a reply from the first solicitor they contacted, they proceeded to email another solicitor at the firm.

Please be vigilant for suspicious emails and ensure that all staff are aware of the threats posed by email scams.

Dealing with online fraud will be the focus of the Society’s Technology and Cybercrime Conference on 26 October 2016.

Email fraud with subject line ‘Compensation fund’ - 14 September 2016

The UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, ActionFraud, has reported that here is a phishing email currently in circulation that claims to be from the City of London Police and which features the subject line ‘Compensation fund’. The similarity to the Law Society’s ‘Client protection fund’ may make this subject line of interest to the Scottish legal profession.  

According to ActionFraud, the departments that fraudsters claims to represent include the ‘Fraud Intelligence Unit’ and the ‘National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’. The email has a letter attachment that claims to be offering financial compensation to victims of fraud. The letter uses the City of London Police logo.
 
The letter states that in order for compensation to be arranged, the receiver of the email should reply disclosing personal information. It states that HSBC and the South African Reserve Bank have been chosen to handle the compensation claims. All of these claims are false.
 
The email and letter are fraudulent and should not be replied to.

Suspicious emails from a "Linda McNair" - 22 July 2016

We’re aware of potentially malicious emails being sent from a “Linda McNair Conveyancer PLS Connect” reporting to relate to a property transaction.

The emails contain attachments made to appear like ones normally used in conveyancing, but there is a concern that these attachments may contain harmful malware if opened.

There were similar reports of suspicious emails from this source in May 2016, and it appears the threat has now returned.

If you receive suspicious emails from a “Linda McNair” or indeed any suspicious emails, do not open any attachments or click on links. There is information available about how to report fraud and internet crime.

We'd also like to remind members that training on protecting your firm from fraud is available.

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Scam emails and online extortion - 3 May 2016

Fraudster attempts to gain access to client account

Fraudsters are continuing to hack into email accounts and are sending fake instructions to practice units instructing client funds to be sent to newly-notified bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters.

In a recent variation, the email received by the practice unit instructed that half of the proceeds from a transaction be sent to the fraudster’s account.  The email confirmed that the balance of funds should be paid to the original (correct) account. This approach appears to be a way of adding credibility to the fraudulent email.

Firms are asked to be aware of the above threats and to ensure that no payments should be made following an email instruction without reliable verification

Scam emails

These continue with recent variations including:

  • Emails to a solicitor apparently from another solicitor in the same area, attaching a fraudulent  invoice
  • Many emails received by unqualified staff of one firm titled “Notice of Legal Proceedings “or “SUMMONS TO WITNESS”.  The email has a word document attached with the recipient’s name as the title.  Emails received feature various sender names and email addresses and feature the words “attorney” and “subpoena”.

Firms should highlight these current threats to staff along with a reminder not to click on email attachments from unknown sources.

Online extortion scam

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) have issued an alert to make businesses aware of a current online extortion scam targeting UK businesses. The alert document includes advice on how to deal with an online extortion attempt against your business.

Read the NFIB alert.

Bogus bank calls & emails – 'Safe Accounts' a new variation - 17 March 2016

In the past we have issued alerts about bogus bank calls and emails. However, this week we have been made aware of a new variation which has been attempted in the Perth area and possibly elsewhere.

The scenario reported is as follows:
• Call from a Graham Wilson saying he is with the Fraud Department of the firm’s bank (in this case Clydesdale)
• The caller states that there had been an attempted transfer from the client account to an offshore account but the Fraud Department had stopped the transfer
• The bank had frozen the account as a precaution and the call was to organise the opening of a safe account into which the firm could transfer its funds


Invoice Scams

Traditional invoice scams also appear to be making a comeback.

One firm reported receiving an 'invoice' from an office supplies business which in very small print stated it was not actually an invoice and there was no obligation to pay. Another firm received calls and emails from a scammer claiming to be from a landlord and seeking previous invoice details.