Warning: Emails misusing the name of Watson Farley & Williams LLP
13 July 2020
Emails have been sent falsely claiming to be from Watson Farley & Williams LLP, in relation to a supposedly unclaimed inheritance.
What is the scam?
Emails have been sent to several members of the public from an individual called "Barrister Watson F. Williams", falsely claiming to be "Principal Partner" at a genuine firm. The emails relate to a supposedly unclaimed inheritance of an unknown individual. The last name of the purportedly deceased client is tailored to match the last name of the recipients of the emails.
The emails were sent using the following email addresses:"firstname.lastname@example.org" and "email@example.com".
The SRA has seen a photo ID card purporting to be for Watson Williams and emails purporting to be from Watson Williams, which misuse the name and genuine address of the genuine firm of solicitors (see below).
The SRA does not authorise and regulate a solicitor called "Watson Williams".
Any business or transactions through the email addresses "firstname.lastname@example.org" and "email@example.com" or from an individual called " Watson Williams" are not undertaken by a firm or by an individual authorised and regulated by the SRA.
Is there a genuine firm or person?
Watson Farley & Williams LLP is a genuine firm of solicitors which is authorised and regulated by the SRA, with its head office based at 15 Appold Street, London EC2A 2HB.
The genuine firm Watson Farley & Williams LLP has confirmed that it has no connection to the emails referred to in the above alert and that it does not employ a member of staff by the names of Watson Williams.
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.