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Law Society warns about money laundering schemes targeting family lawyers

Firms have been receiving instructions to enforce bogus collaborative law agreements

The Law Society has issued renewed guidance concerning money laundering and fraudulent schemes which may target the litigation practices of law firms. The Society says that a perception that solicitors engaging in litigation may not be so vigilant on client due diligence has led both money launderers and fraudsters to target law firms.

It gives the following example of a scheme aimed at family law practices:

"Individuals, who are usually presenting themselves as foreign nationals, are contacting solicitors by email and asking them to help enforce a collaborative law agreement arising out of their divorce some years ago. They say that they believe that the other party is in your jurisdiction, provide a generic email address but no postal address for the other party, and a copy of the agreement.

"Upon closer inspection, the agreement does not state the jurisdiction or court in which it was made, the lawyers who allegedly acted for each party are merely mentioned by name but no information on the firm is provided, the contents of the agreement while extending to a few pages does not actually cover anything of substance and in one case a completely different person to the prospective client was named as a party to the agreement.

"This particular methodology has the attraction for the criminals of moving reasonable sums of money through a lawyers account, while also potentially giving them access to the letterhead and client account details of the firm and lawyers signatures, enabling them to perpetrate frauds against the firm at a later date."

To read the guidance, please click here.