Saturday, February 1, 2014

List of 136 Closed Firms Presents a Ripe Opportunity For Fraudsters

One of the predictable consequences of the SRA listing the firms that were closed recently was that fraudsters could take advantage of the situation.

Within a few days of the the SRA list being published the SRA received information that a member of the public has received emails falsely claiming to be from Christopher Anderson of Andersons Solicitors. The emails relate to an unclaimed inheritance from a previously unknown relative. The real Anderson solicitors closed on the 29th December. The firm was on the list on 136 firms.

The fraudulent emails describe Christopher Anderson as "sole legal counsel" and give the email address chris@anderslaw.co.uk or christopher@anderslaw.co.uk, telephone number +44 7924 551 313 / (0) 7924 551 313 and the address Bosewell Cottage, 19 South End, Croydon, CR0 1BE. The address matches the address of the former genuine firm.

The SRA does authorise and regulate an individual called Christopher Anderson. However, the SRA has been informed that the genuine solicitor and former genuine firm have no knowledge of or involvement in sending out these emails relating to obtaining the benefit of an unclaimed inheritance from a previously unknown relative, and no connection with the email addresses chris@anderslaw.co.uk and christopher@anderslaw.co.uk.

Solicitors on Tenterhooks for News on the Llloyds Conveyancing Panel Portal

Last November the CML announced that the new "Lender Exchange" was set to launch in the first quarter of 2014. The Lender Exchange is the technology platform for the Lloyds Conveyancing Panel Portal.

Members of the Law Society were contacted late last years putting them on notice of the new portal. The letter states firms need not take any immediate action but that further information would be provided in early 2014 by various lenders who would mandate the use of the conveyancing panel portal.
Well early 2014 has been and gone and there is an early silence.
Faced with a potential credibility challenge to CQS Des Hudson advised solicitors that he is continuing to challenge the CML and the Decision First process in the strongest terms. He is also liaising with the Law Societies of Scotland and Northern Ireland who share our concerns for their members who will also be adversely impacted.
The new panel management facility has two stated objectives – to minimise the costs and administrative burden on conveyancing solicitors responding to regular duplicate information requests from multiple lenders and to help lenders minimise fraud and negligence through robust due diligence (although it is not yet clear how this second element is to be achieved).

The panel software will give conveyancing firms throughout the UK (not just England and wales) an easy way to submit and update information to lenders about their conveyancing practice through a, secure interface, saving them time and duplication of effort in meeting the terms of their lender panel membership.

Lenders such as Lloyds, in turn, will be able to access information to enable them to assess the continued suitability of a firm on the Lloyds Conveyancing panel, depending on their own individual requirements.