Warnings about bogus solicitors will be easier for people to find when the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launches a new online search facility in May 2014 to mark the Citizen's Advice Bureau's Scams Awareness Month.
The SRA's scam alerts are currently listed by the date they are issued at www.sra.org.uk/alerts but due to a big increase in the number of scams—and a mounting archive of alerts—the SRA believes it is important to give everyone instant access to the whole collection.
You will be able to search for SRA scam alerts by keywords and date range, trace connected scams across a series of alerts, and follow hyperlinks to other resources reviewed and recommended by SRA staff.
Also in the pipeline are warnings about developing trends and patterns in scammers' activities along with alerts about suspicious activity that may come before a full-blown scam. All SRA scam alerts are posted on Twitter at @sra_solicitors and will also appear on the SRA's Facebook page.
More than 200 scam alerts have been issued since the SRA began publishing them in September 2011, where scammers have posed as legitimate solicitors or firms in areas like conveyancing, lottery scams, inheritance scams, investment in shares and cold calling to try to get money from unsuspecting victims. Gordon Ramsay is the SRA's Director of Enforcement and he said:
"Bogus solicitors are not solicitors at all, but are criminals posing as solicitors. As such we do not regulate them, and anyone becoming aware of such activity should notify the police and contact us without delay. "Unfortunately this is a growing problem associated with cybercrime and the increasing use of electronic communication in transactions. We would warn anyone using legal services that if they have any reason to doubt that letters, emails or other contact supposed to come from a genuine solicitor look in any way suspicious, they should contact the law firm or individual directly, through reliable and established means. We can confirm an individual or firm is regulated by us.
"However, it is wise to be watchful for telltale signs such as only a mobile phone number being used; no office address or incorrect spelling of an address; or inaccurate details on a letterhead.