An outsourced compliance service provider has warned of a new-style scam they have intercepted involving criminals impersonating the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The methodology involves individuals contacting law firms alleging to be from the SRA and asking to attend their offices onsite for a “pre audit meeting.” Contact is made via phone call from a mobile number under the pretext of of a “pre-audit meeting” related to the issues recently reported around Axiom Ince.
The scam was intercepted by compliance consultancy Hive Risk during a recent client visit and published in a post on LinkedIn.
“The motive of this scam is not altogether clear as we stopped it from happening but the assumption is that the perpetrator was looking for access to data, information, systems or just the clients premises in general.”
said Technical Director Gavin Ball, adding.
“If you are faced with this type of situation, do please check the callers credentials, record details of the call (names, times, dates, information requested) and contact the SRA to verify its validity.”
Responding to the post, Colette Best, Director of Anti-Money Laundering at the SRA said
If we are undertaking an onsite AML or sanctions inspection we will write ahead from an SRA email account to the COLP or MLCO. In addition, from December AML team members leading inspections will have photo ID. We are issuing our next tranche of inspection letters shortly, so do get in touch if you have doubts about the credentials of a caller.
Commenting on the issues facing firms from fraudsters, Ball said
“Fraud in and against law firms, both internal and external, is an issue that is often overlooked and controls and processes in law firms are not robust to these threats. In times of economic hardship economic crime, and in particular fraud, increases in volume and it is important that all businesses increase their levels of awareness and staff training in this area to protect themselves.
Sadly, internal fraud, committed by employees, is another area of risk that is increasing and firms should ensure that their internal controls such a segregation of duties, invoice reconciliation and basic accounting and procurement processes are reviewed and strengthened where required.
Raising awareness of these frauds is key and training and information sharing is vital to ensure that law firms do not fall victim to these fraud attempts.”