Warning: Correspondence and website misusing the name of Russell-Cooke LLP
1 October 2019
A letter has been sent purporting to be from a genuine solicitor regarding a supposed unclaimed life insurance policy.
What is the scam?
The SRA understands that a letter has been received by fax, misusing the name of a genuine firm and a genuine solicitor (see below).
The letter seen by the SRA relates to an unclaimed "permanent life insurance policy" for a former client who shared the same surname and nationality as the recipient. The policy was for a value of $9,820,000 and requests the recipient to become the beneficiary then share the proceeds as "45% each and 10% to charity organizations".
The letter seen by the SRA purports to have been sent from a genuine solicitor (see below) but with the following contact details: email "firstname.lastname@example.org" and "email@example.com", website "www.russellcooke-llp.co.uk", telephone "+44-207-193-0291" and "+44-207-193-6040".
The website is not a website for a genuine firm of solicitors (see below).
The website misuses the name and photograph of a genuine solicitor, and address details of a branch office (see below). The email address provided on the website is "firstname.lastname@example.org". The website also lists the following individuals as solicitors; Benjamin Burford, Olivia Chami (Olivia.email@example.com), Russell Cooke, Daniel Thomson, and Sam Kennedy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The SRA does not authorise and regulate a firm of solicitors called "Russell Cooke-LLP" or any individuals called Benjamin Burford, Olivia Chami, Russell Cooke, Daniel Thomson, and Sam Kennedy. Any business or transactions through "Russell Cooke-LLP", the above-named individuals, or the email addresses, website and contact numbers set out 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 authorises and regulates a genuine firm called Russell-Cooke LLP trading as Russell-Cooke LLP, whose registered address is 2 Putney Hill, London, SW15 6AB. The firm’s genuine telephone number is 020 8789 9111 and the genuine website is http://www.russell-cooke.co.uk.
The genuine firm has a branch office at 8 Bedford Row, London, WC1R 4BX and at Bishop's Palace House Kingston Bridge Kingston-upon-Thames Surrey, KT1 1QN.
The SRA also authorises and regulates a genuine solicitor called Gareth Ledsham who is a partner at the genuine Russell-Cooke LLP. His genuine email address is “Gareth.Ledsham@russell-cooke.co.uk” and genuine telephone number is 020 8394 6413.
Both the genuine firm of Russell-Cooke LLP and the genuine individual, Gareth Ledsham, have confirmed that they have no connection to the matters 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.