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Scottish Solicitors’ Guarantee Fund

1 September 03

A recommendation to take measures to prevent fraudulent instructions to transfer money from a solicitor’s client account

The Guarantee Fund Committee was recently made aware of an attempt to perpetrate a fraud on a solicitor’s client bank account. A forged letter was forwarded to a branch of one of the main clearing banks purporting to give instructions to transfer a sum of money from the client to another individual’s account. Forged documentation did not achieve the desired result. The matter was brought to the Society’s attention by the solicitor to raise awareness of this type of risk. There were also concerns that the bank had not spotted the documentation was false at once.

The Committee is aware that it is impossible for a solicitor to take action which would avoid such a fraud taking place since a solicitor may only become aware of the problem when he receives his bank statement.

Some clearing banks make a point of telephoning to check transfer instructions, given by letter or fax.

You should review this aspect of your banking arrangements and make it clear that you expect to have to give confirmation to all transfer instructions, particularly if this is not a normal aspect of your banking arrangements.

This has been brought to the attention of the clearing banks to check the individuals bank arrangements for dealing with such matters.