Warning: Correspondence from "Winchesters Solicitors"
14 August 2019
A fax has been sent from "Winchesters Solicitors", in relation to a supposedly unclaimed ‘permanent life insurance policy’
What is the scam?
A fax has been sent to an individual in New Zealand in relation to a supposedly unclaimed ‘permanent life insurance policy’. The faxed letter claims to be from "Edward Rae, Attorney", who the letter claims is a partner at “Winchesters Solicitors, London – United Kingdom”.
The fax seen by the SRA refers to an unclaimed 'savings monetary deposit' for $9,820,000 supposedly being held with a "reputable bank". It further asks the recipient to help claim the life insurance policy due to the individual holding the same surname as that of the supposed client/deceased, with the proceeds proposed to be split 45% each with 10% going to charity.
The letter seen by the SRA claims to be from a law firm based in London, but also provides in the letterhead an address in Ellon, Aberdeenshire (in Scotland). In addition, it provides the following contact information;
- Telephone number: +44 797 8329781
- Email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org; Edward208@gmail.com and email@example.com.
- Website: www.winchesterslaw.com/ (an address which does not seem to be active)
The SRA does not authorise or regulate a solicitor’s firm with the name "Winchesters Solicitors" and does not regulate any individual solicitor by the name "Edward Rae".
Any business or transaction through the contact numbers, website or email address listed above are not undertaken by a solicitor's practice or individual authorised or regulated by the SRA.
Is there a genuine firm or person?
The SRA previously authorised a firm of solicitors called Winchesters Solicitors Limited, whose genuine address was at 40A High Street, Erdington, Birmingham, West midlands B23 6RH – but this firm ceased trading in 2012 and is not believed to have any connection with the above matters.
The SRA understands that a Scottish law firm called Winchesters Solicitors may previously have been trading in Ellon, Aberdeenshire (before being acquired by another local firm). Scottish law firms are not regulated by the SRA, but it is also not believed that any such genuine firm had any connection to the letter or issues referred to in the above alert.
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.