Lawyers hit back over e-mail scam

Aug 30, 2007

A fraudster, posing as a barrister, is sending e-mails offering to share a £10-million windfall from a dead client’s will. But unlike similar scams, which often ask help to free cash or gold from an African bank account, this latest approach has an unusual twist.

The e-mails, from a Robert Clive, claim not just to come from a barrister but someone acting as a legal representative for a genuine local law firm. The fraud only came to light when one of the firms mentioned in the letter was passed a copy of an e-mail bearing their name and part of their address.

Michael Franklin (pictured), of Franklins Solicitors, said: "We don’t know how many different e-mails are being sent out and how many legal firms this fraudster might be pretending to represent, but Franklins has certainly never had an association with anyone by the name of Robert Clive.

"The e-mail is a scam but it’s particularly concerning when a fraudster attempts to make it look more genuine by using the real name and address of a local firm.

"It’s perhaps not the brightest idea to try to undertake this kind of scam within the legal community who, after all, know the law better than most.

"This is effectively fraud by false representation under the Fraud Act 2006 and another form of ‘phishing’. It can carry a maximum jail sentence of ten years or a hefty fine, or both," he added.

People are being warned not to open the e-mail marked ‘Urgent please!!!!!!!’ and not to reply to it if they do.

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