Attempts to defraud attorney firms have once again surfaced. Members are requested to be alert of all suspicious activities that could affect the firms trust account and are requested to inform all staff accordingly in an attempt to not fall victim to these fraudulent scams.

Please be alerted to the following modus operandi of the scams –

FRAUDULENT EMAILS RECEIVED FROM CLIENTS REQUESTING BANKING PARTICULARS TO BE AMENDED IN RESPECT OF CONVEYANCING TRANSACTIONS –

  • members , their staff and clients emails are being hacked by fraudsters;
  • the firm will have a legitimate relationship with the client so the email will not seem to be suspicious;
  • the fraudster will email the attorney or its staff member usually hours after registration of the conveyancing transaction, purportedly being the client from the clients original email address informing the firm that the banking particulars originally submitted is incorrect and thus providing  “new banking particulars” for the proceeds of the transaction to be effected to;
  • once the firm has changed the banking details and effected the payment to the fraudulent account,  the fraudster would proceed to clear the banking account from all the funds.
  • Members and their staff are encourage to call and confirm with all clients on receipt of such email requests; and
  • to verify banking details before effecting any payments to clients.

  THE ATTORNEYS FIDELITY FUND SCAM –

  • the fraudsters contact the firm, purporting to be an employee (Erik, Nelson, Alex and Antony are some of the names used by the fraudsters) of the Attorneys Fidelity Fund or using the Attorneys Fidelity Fund letterhead to advise that a payment was made to the firm in error;
  • the letterhead has the correct address for the Attorneys Fidelity Fund but the incorrect contact particulars;
  • the fraudster also use a bogus email address, e.g.  erikbusinessenviron@gmail.com or credtors@fidelityfund.co.za or fidelityfund01@gmail.com;
  • we urge that you verify the Attorneys Fidelity Fund details on receipt of their written confirmation of the payment or/and contact the Attorneys Fidelity Fund at (021) 424 – 5351;
  • the fraudster deposits a stolen cheque into a firm’s bank account;
  • the fraudster then advises the firm that the erroneous payment related to the firm’s refund of audit costs, thereafter requesting a refund to a fraudulent bank account;
  • the fraudster would proceed to leave fictitious particulars for the Attorneys Fidelity Fund, more than likely a mobile contact number, which would be used to contact the firm several times;
  • the recent contact particulars being used are – (011) 070 1648, 081 029 8507 (021)420 0000 and 073 693 0971;
  • the fraudulent cheque deposited into the firm’s bank account would invariably be dishonoured by the bank, once the bank established that the cheque was fraudulent.

STOLEN TRUST CHEQUE BOOKS LINKED TO DISCONNECTION  OF THE FIRM’S TELEPHONE LINES –

  • the fraudsters disable the attorney firm’s telephone lines and divert the numbers to one of their accomplices;
  • the fraudsters are in possession of a stolen or cloned cheque of the firm and attempt to present  and cash cheques at various Banking institutions;
  • due to security controls at the Banking institutions, the Bank is obligated to call the signatories to obtain clearance in respect of cheques with large values;
  • the fraudsters would answer the call the bank posing as one of the signatories, thereby verifying the amount of the cheque;
  • on receipt of the clearance, the Bank would encash the cheque and release the cash to the fraudster;
  •  in certain instances members have been lucky in that the Banks have called the attorneys on their mobile telephones.  In such instances the bank did not release the funds.

FRAUDULENT/SCAM EMAIL TITLED “THE CAPE LAW SOCIETY PAST DUE MEMBERSHIP INVOICE –

  •  Members are urged to please ignore the communication as it does not emanate from The Cape Law Society President; and
  •  is in fact a scam or phishing type mail requesting the member to access the link of the email;
  • the email would be addressed to the member, addressing the member as “Dear Barrister” advising the member that the annual membership fees according to the Society’s records are past due; and that
  •  the members privileges as a member of The Cape Law Society shall be terminated if the payment was not received by the due date;
  • the Society would usually only distribute invoices requesting membership subscription fees at the end of June and during July;
  • members are encouraged to verify if an email is legitimate with the organisation/entity, claiming to have sent it, prior to taking any further action as may be required in the email.

Members are requested to take note that –

  • generally the Attorneys Fidelity Fund or The Cape Law Society staff would not provide firm’s with their mobile numbers;
  • staff members of the Attorneys Fidelity Fund or The Cape Law Society would not call members or their staff continually demanding an immediate refund of an error payment and would not advise that a certain amount may be retained to cover the trust bank charges;
  • the Attorneys Fidelity Fund is situated on the 5th Floor, Waalburg Building, Wale Street Cape Town with the office number 021 424 5351, with email address: attorneys@fidfund.co.za and Fax number 021 423 4819;
  • when refunding any payment to any person to ensure that the cheque is cleared by your bank and the funds reflect in your trust account and to investigate all refund requests thoroughly .
  • to be on the alert for attempted phishing attempts where an email or text message purportedly from a banking institution informing the member of  fraudulent activity on the firm’s online banking account, advising the member to immediately login to their internet banking platform, via a link provided by the fraudster;
  • DO NOT access the link in the email, as doing so may expose the firm to risk. Contact your bank immediately;
  • Report the matter to your Law Society.

Members are advised to exercise caution and vigilance and when confronted with an instance of fraudulent activity, before divulging any particulars or making any payments.

 We remind you that the onus is on the member to ensure that members protect trust funds entrusted to their firms and themselves from personal liability to make good on any shortfall on your trust account as a result of the aforementioned fraudulent scams.