Warning: Letter misusing the name “Howell Jones Solicitors”

28 February 2018

A letter has been sent falsely claiming to be from Howell Jones Solicitors, regarding an alleged refund involving binary options.

What is the scam?

The SRA has received a report that a specific letter / document, falsely claiming to be from Nick Ball at Howell Jones Solicitors, has been sent to a member of the public. The document claims to relate to an alleged refund involving binary options companies, and misuses the name, postal address, telephone and fax number for a genuine firm of solicitors and a genuine solicitor (see below).

The document seen by the SRA claims to be a “Client’s Notification Note” and refers the recipient to an alleged refund of “29,74.00 EURO”. The letter informs the recipient that the refund had been agreed, following an investigation requested on their behalf by an individual named “Dmitri Efimov”. The recipient is invited to contact “Dmitri Efimov” for further details.

Any such business or transactions through “Dmitri Efimov”, claiming to involve Howell Jones Solicitors, are not undertaken by or endorsed by a solicitor’s practice.

Is there a genuine firm or person?

The SRA does authorise and regulate a genuine firm of solicitors called Howell-Jones LLP (which trades as Howell Jones Solicitors).

The SRA also authorises and regulates several genuine solicitors called Nicholas (Nick) Ball, including a genuine Nick Ball who works for Howell-Jones LLP.

The genuine firm does operate an office from Level 33, 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LQ, which is the address used on the letter seen by the SRA. The genuine firm also uses the telephone number 0207 183 9470 and the fax number 03330 066 088, which appear on the document referred to above. The firm have confirmed that they do not have any genuine connection with the correspondence referred to in the above alert. The genuine firm have also confirmed that they do not have any records of anybody by the name of “Dmitri Efimov”.

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.