Risk alert - external frauds and scams (2013)
External frauds and scams are a significant live risk issue for solicitors. Recent adverse experience of claims and 'near misses' proves the determination of fraudsters and the alarming sophistication of the frauds and scams they commit. Some have involved identity theft/fraud, fake transactions, fake cheques/drafts and in some cases fake law firms. It is appropriate to alert the profession to a recent situation where solicitors have been victims of a fraud/scam:
Fraudster gaining access to solicitors' client account/security details
In the past month, a firm had funds stolen from its client account after an experienced member of the firm's cashroom/finance staff was persuaded to disclose password/PIN information enabling the fraudster to transfer client funds using the bank's automated bank transfer facility. The password/PIN was disclosed to someone posing as a member of the bank's fraud investigation team who telephoned the firm under the pretext that he was investigating suspicious account activity. His 'cover story' was evidently convincing and the firm's employee complied with the request for details of password/PIN. Transfers of funds were effected overnight and this was only discovered the following day.
Passwords/PINs should NOT be disclosed to anyone even if they purport to be a member of the bank's staff.
Banks do not send emails asking for bank account information. Emails requesting password/PIN information should NOT be answered.
You may be aware of other frauds or scams, or had a 'near miss' yourself. Sharing information about frauds and scams will help the profession as a whole guard against exposure to fraud. If you are willing and able to share information for the benefit of the profession as a whole, please click here to contact the Marsh team.