Increasingly, customers and clients of professional services firms are being targeted by online scammers.
These scammers aim to exploit, and profit from, a firm's good reputation, and this often involves individuals masquerading as members of staff, or claiming to represent that organisation.
Although it is possible for a fraudster to pose as a Stephensons member of staff - without our knowledge - the information below should help you - the client - identify fraudulent emails and know what to do if you receive such an email.
What type of hoax email might you receive?
Usually these emails are sent by internet fraudsters pretending to be one of our members of staff.
Hoax emails are sent with the intention of obtaining money from you under false pretences. There are many different types of scam but, the email may claim for example that a lawyer from Stephensons is settling a valuable estate, and that the person receiving the email has the same surname as the deceased, encouraging them to make a claim for inheritance.
Anyone who responds to the email will then be asked by the fraudster to pay a fee so that the fraudulent ‘claim’ can be processed, sometimes the fees requested can run into thousands of pounds.
When the fraudster has withdrawn all the money they can, they stop communicating with the recipient of the email. The unfortunate victim will then directly contact the firm to ask for progress on the claim only to discover at that point that they have been the victim of a scam.
Another popular hoax is for the fraudster to send an email apparently from Stephensons claiming that the recipient owes money which the firm are instructed to collect and giving bogus bank account details in order for the payment to be made. People have been known to make payment to the fraudsters even though they did not actually owe any money at all.
How to spot a hoax email
Although such hoax emails will mention Stephensons and supposedly provide a link to our website, etc., they can often be spotted by the ‘suffix’ of the email address they are sent from and by looking closely at the domain name of the website.
Legitimate emails from Stephensons will end with “@stephensons.co.uk” but fraudulent emails will often be sent from a web-based email address, such as Gmail or Hotmail. Sometimes these emails contain grammatical errors and/or spelling mistakes or attempt to put you under pressure to send money or release personal details.
Stephensons will never ‘cold call’ you or send you an unsolicited email. All solicitors firms are bound by regulations which say that they will not engage in these practices.
What to do if you receive a hoax email
In the event that you receive any unsolicited emails that claim to have been sent from Stephensons, please bring it to our attention by contacting our risk team on 01942 774193 or firstname.lastname@example.org. As soon as we are aware of a scam we will take steps to warn other clients and post details on our social media accounts and website.
Further information on hoax emails, including common types of scam, can be found on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website.
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