People are being defrauded of “significant sums of money” by criminals impersonating their solicitors online, a regulator has warned.

The scammers are emailing clients of legal firms directing them to lodge monies they owe into a new bank account, in the control of the fraudsters.

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) said “cyberattacks are increasing in both number and sophistication”.

Publishing a report on complaints in 2021, the body said solicitors and their clients were among those being targeted by online criminals through fraudulent emails that impersonate solicitors’ firms.

These emails often advise the client that the solicitor has recently changed their bank account and direct the client to lodge money to the new account. This method has been used to defraud clients of significant sums of money.” 

The LSRA advised people to phone their solicitor if they receive such an email.

Computer systems being hacked

The authority said it was also aware of instances of solicitors’ computer systems being hacked.

It said the cyber criminals can then monitor internal emails and, at the right time, change payment details on emails passing between staff.

“This type of attack can be repeated a number of times over a short period before the issue comes to light, with particularly devastating consequences for the firm involved,” the report said.

LSRA boss Brian J Doherty said the potential impact of cyber fraud on the client and the legal…

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