The Solicitors Regulation Authority has warned the public to be alert to correspondence from an organisation holding itself out as being associated with magic circle firm Linklaters.
The letters appear to be sent from a Colombian firm which falsely describes itself as being an agent for the global practice.
The SRA reports that the letters are sent from a firm named ‘AP & Asociados’ which claims to be the Colombian outfit. There is no suggestion that a Venezuelan engineering business of that name is involved. The letters are headed with the Linklaters name and the notice at the foot refers to the firm as ‘AP & P LLP’.
They were sent in relation to an arbitration matter, with Linklaters appearing in the email address and the Colombian firm claiming to be an agent for Linklaters LLP in South America and the Caribbean.
The genuine firm of Linklaters LLP has confirmed that it has no connection to the Colombian firm, correspondence or email address.
The SRA says it does not regulate or authorise the practice ‘AP & Asociados’.
Anyone receiving these letters should check the authenticity of the correspondence by contacting the law firm directly by ‘reliable and established’ means.
According to the SRA’s annual risk outlook for 2016/17, reports about bogus law firms have doubled since 2012 to more than 700 a year.
Almost half of all reports of bogus law firms involve criminals copying the identity of an existing law firm. The SRA has established scam alerts to warn the public directly about the problem and urges anyone suspicious of correspondence to report their concerns.