SRA issues alert after fraudsters impersonate City law firm partners in phishing scam

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By Thomas Connelly on

Hogan Lovells duo falsely named in emails

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has issued an alert after online fraudsters used the identities of two City law firm partners in a bid to dupe the general public out of their hard-earned cash.

The regulator confirmed that in one scam, a number of phishing-style emails were sent falsely claiming to be from “John Allison” of “Hogan Lovells“.

The fraud arises in the context of someone “impersonating a chief executive or chief financial officer of a company and directing a subsidiary company to make a payment in connection with a supposedly confidential purchase of another overseas company”, according to the SRA alert.

The email sees the chief exec explain that the fake Allison will supply an account number for payment. The fraudsters then fire over a spoof email from Allison with the claimed banking details in the hope the recipient will fall for the scam and make the payment.

The real John Allison is a corporate and M&A partner in Hogan Lovells’ London office.

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A number of emails have also been sent to members of the public in relation to an unclaimed inheritance, falsely claiming to be from “Nick Atkins” of “Hogan Lovells LLP”, according to the SRA.

The email explains that the recipient has the same surname as the supposedly deceased client and in at least one instance false supporting documentation (a photographic identification and a “Certificate Of Call To Bar”) was provided.

The genuine Nick Atkins is a litigation, arbitration and employment partner in Hogan Lovells’ London office.

Hogan Lovells declined to comment.

This isn’t the first time the identities of lawyers and City firms have been used in this way. Last year email scammers used the name of Michael Bates, the UK regional managing partner at Clifford Chance, in a bid to swindle unsuspecting members of the public. Other firms to be falsely named in dodgy emails include Withers, Norton Rose Fulbright, Osborne Clarke and Herbert Smith Freehills.

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