We have seen a rise in client transaction frauds reported to the Master Policy insurers in the last few months. By way of reminder, we outlined a number of steps that firms can take to help avoid falling victim to these scams in our article on Payment Fraud in June last year.
We are aware that an increasing number of these cases involve fraudsters masquerading as solicitors. In these cases, the fraudster targets a firm's client, while pretending to be the client's solicitor and advises that there has been a change in the firm's bank account details. It is important that you discuss this issue with your clients at the outset of any transaction where funds are to be transferred, to ensure that they are alive to the threats and that they know what to expect from your firm.
We have prepared wording that you can give to your client at the start of a transaction. You can simply cut and paste this wording onto your firm's letter headed paper, complete the details, then print it out and post it to your client at the beginning of the transaction. We suggest posting, rather than emailing the notice. The wording can be used as part of the letter of engagement or separately. It should act as an addition to (and not a substitute for) a discussion with the client in person or by telephone about the risk of fraud. We hope that these simple steps will help educate and inform clients about these issues and reduce the incidence of payment frauds.