City firm Bates Wells Braithwaite has told how it became the victim of an attempted cyber-fraud in which photographs and details of several of its lawyers were stolen and displayed on a scam website.
BWB said its lawyers’ details appeared on the website of 'Allen & Partners' – an organisation that purported to help ‘capitalise on US business opportunities’ and provide advice on ‘Britain’s outrageous tax rates’. Its website featured official headshots of several solicitors at BWB but changed the name or first name of the lawyer.
The profiles, including their qualifications, remained the same. It is believed the details were stolen to ’lend legitimacy to a money laundering scam’.
The firm, which hosted an event on Monday called ‘Fighting Charity Fraud’, noticed the site in May this year when a colleague searched for her name online.
Mindy Jhittay, senior associate at BWB, told the event that the firm then performed a reverse image search where it was able to see all the websites that had used its photographs.
She said the firm was able to allege copyright intellectual property infringement, breach of data and fraud and false representation and that the site had been taken down within days.
Other organisations, particularly charities, are not so lucky however. BWB said there had been 298 fraud cases in six months this year, with charities losing £12m per month. Fraud costs charities £1.9 billion per year – the firm said.
Monday’s event coincided with the launch of an anti-fraud team at the firm. The team was set up to help business and charities ’become aware of the knowledge, systems and procedures that will help them avoid fraud’.
Robert Oakley, partner at BWB, said: ‘While fraud has always been a perennial concern for charities, the rise of cyber-fraud has seen many charities caught unaware by the sheer scale of the threat to their day-to-day operations. A series of recent high-profile data breaches underline this problem, and reinforce the fact that organisations need to put in place countermeasures to meet these risks head-on before events move beyond their control.’