Beware cyber-criminals posing as solicitors

A fresh warning has been issued about the dangers posed by fraudsters who pose as solicitors.

The conmen have been known to hack the email accounts of bona fide law firms and impersonate the professionals.

In the first three months of the year, it is estimated that in the region of £3.2million was stolen by cybercriminals using these tactics. This is three times the amount in the equivalent period last year.

In many cases the most common targets are homebuyers, who may be using a solicitors for conveyancing services. The crooks email the unsuspecting buyers at an opportune moment – having been monitoring communications between the parties – and ask for a deposit to be paid into an account.

With this in mind, members of the public are advised to be extra vigilant and never rely solely on bank details provided in an email. If in doubt people should call their bank to double check.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has also recommended that clients pay a pathfinder sum of around £1 to check that an account is legitimate before transferring the full amount.

Paul Philip, the chief executive of the legal watchdog, said: “Criminals using IT to steal clients’ funds is an increasing problem.”

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