Warning: Correspondence misusing the name of Philip Youdan
8 May 2019
Letters have been sent to individuals in the USA in relation to an unclaimed 'permanent life insurance policy', misusing the name Philip Youdan.
What is the scam?
Letters have been sent to individuals in the USA in relation to a supposedly unclaimed 'permanent life insurance policy'. The letters claim to be from "Philip Youdan, LL.B, LL.M" of "Heritage Probate & Wills a Law firm based in the United Kingdom". The letters misuse the name of a genuine solicitor (see below).
The letter seen by the SRA refers to an unclaimed 'permanent life insurance policy' supposedly insured for $10,950,777 with a top life insurance company in Abu Dhabi. It further asks the recipient to 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.
We understand that the letter or other correspondence may have been sent by email. The letter provides the below contact information:
- Telephone number: 011 44 203 286 0389
- Fax number: 011 44 20 8711 3964
- Mobile number: 0044 7741 80064
- Email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- Website: www.herritagepandw.co.uk
- Address: "152-156 Great Portland Street, London, W4 1QN".
The SRA does not authorise or regulate a solicitor's firm with the name Heritage Probate & Wills.
Any business or transaction through the contact numbers, website or email addresses listed above are not undertaken by a solicitor's practice or an individual authorised or regulated by the SRA. The postal address used is similar to that of a different genuine firm of solicitors (see below), but the postcode used in the scam letter referred to is incorrect.
Is there a genuine firm or person?
The SRA does authorise and regulate a genuine solicitor with the name Philip Youdan whose genuine email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philip Youdan has confirmed he has no connection to the above emails.
The SRA also authorises and regulates a firm of solicitors called Russells, whose genuine head office address is 152-156 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5QA. This genuine firm is not believed to have any connection to the above matters.
From the website of the Institute of Professional Will writers, and an internet search, the SRA understands there is a genuine will-writing firm called Heritage Wills and Probate whose website appears to have been cloned by the website referred to in the above alert. This firm is not authorised or regulated by the SRA, but it has confirmed it is not linked to the letters and website 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.