Alerts

Warning: Letter misusing the name and address of Hugh James

16 June 2017

A letter has been sent by fax regarding a supposed inheritance, which falsely claims to be from Gareth Williams of "Hugh James LLP".

What is the scam?

The SRA has been informed that a letter has been sent to businesses and members of the public, regarding a supposed inheritance, which falsely claims to be from Gareth Williams of "Hugh James LLP".

The letter seen by the SRA refers to a supposedly unclaimed inheritance being available, from the estate of someone with the same surname as the recipient of the letter. The letter asks the reader to contact the sender in order to try and claim a large sum of money from a life insurance company.

The letter seen by the SRA provides an email address of “gw@hughjamesllp.com” and a telephone number of "+44 203 769 1878".

Any business or transactions through the email address or telephone number referred to above, are not undertaken by a solicitor's practice or an individual authorised and regulated by the SRA.

The letter also includes a contact address in London, which is an address used by several genuine firms (see below).

The SRA does not authorise and regulate a firm called "Hugh James LLP", but does authorise and regulate a firm with a very similar name (see below).

Is there a genuine firm or person?

Hugh James is a genuine firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the SRA.

The genuine firm has its head office in Cardiff, but also has a genuine London based branch office at Temple Chambers, 3-7 Temple Avenue, London, EC4Y 0DS. This address, an office building, is also used by several other genuine law firms.

The genuine contact telephone number for the London office of Hugh James is 020 7936 3453 and genuine emails from the firm end with "@hughjames.com".

The SRA does authorise and regulate several genuine solicitors called Gareth Williams, including one who works for the genuine firm, Hugh James.

The genuine firm has confirmed that it has no connection to the letter referred to above.

What should I do?

When a firm's or individual's identity has been copied exactly (or cloned), due diligence is necessary. If you receive correspondence claiming to be from the above firm(s) or individual(s), or information of a similar nature to that described, you should conduct your own due diligence by checking the authenticity of the correspondence by contacting the law firm directly by reliable and established means. You can contact the SRA to find out if individuals or firms are regulated and authorised by the SRA and verify an individual's or firm's practising details. Other verification methods, such as checking public records (e.g. telephone directories and company records) may be required in other circumstances.