A police force has issued a warning to solicitors about online criminals imitating law firms in order to defraud clients.

Hampshire Constabulary said fraudsters are using misspelt website domain names - close to legitimate solicitor websites - and gaining the trust of clients through potentially malicious communications. Fraudsters then send an email saying the firm’s bank details have recently changed and ask the client to pay the funds to an alternative account controlled by the offenders.

The police said it is possible that a phishing email attack will have already been launched against the genuine company to obtain the necessary client information.

Hampshire Constabulary urged firms to ensure anyone asking for records of financial transactions is a genuine client and that they are using an email address associated with their account.

It also recommended two-factor authentication for online accounts as a secondary level of protection, alongside a strong password which is changed at regular intervals, to prevent cyber attacks.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has warned that any firm holding money or confidential information is a potential target of cybercrime.