Police are investigating a fraud apparently involving the diversion of a law firm’s phone number to guarantee fake cheques.
In a scam alert posted on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website today, the regulator said a number of fraudulent cheques purporting to be from a genuine firm have been cashed at cash converter-type stores.
The SRA said six cheques were paid in on a Saturday when the genuine firm’s offices were closed.
They each bore the firm’s name and account number along with a falsified letter.
It is understood that those responsible had contacted BT late in the evening the previous day and managed to have the firm’s telephone number diverted to their own line.
When the stores attempted to contact the genuine firm to verify the cheques, they were inadvertently diverted to the fraudsters who said the cheques were authentic. They cheques were duly cashed.
It appears the scam came to light only after the fraudsters tried to cash two further cheques that were of such poor quality they aroused suspicion.
The SRA said the genuine firm’s bank has been alerted and the matter reported to the police, but it warned that further attempts may be made against other firms.
The alert added: ‘This was the first time that cash converter-type stores had experienced this type of scam, and the fact that the fraudsters were able to successfully divert the genuine firm’s telephone lines added an element of authenticity to the fraud.’
Anyone who suspects the authenticity of cheques is advised to carry out extra due diligence, including contacting the SRA to make sure the firm is real.