Warning: Correspondence misusing the name Winckworth Sherwood; and the website "www․swlaws․co․uk"
18 May 2020
Correspondence sent misusing the name Winckworth Sherwood, and the website "www․swlaws․co․uk" falsely claiming to be the website of a genuine firm․
What is the scam?
A member of the public has received a faxed letter claiming to be from "Andrew Bedford", "Head of Dispute Resolution and Probate Attorney" at "Law Winckworth Sherwood" (although the header of the faxed letter misuses the name "Winckworth Sherwood"). The letter relates to pursuing a claim from a purportedly unclaimed inheritance, with the recipient of the letter understood to have the same last name of a supposedly deceased client.
The letter provides a telephone number of "011 44 74044 53543" a fax number of "011 44 12 1368 2037" and email addresses of "email@example.com" and "firstname.lastname@example.org". The letter also provides, and misuses, the genuine head office address of a genuine firm (see below).
The SRA does not authorise or regulate a firm of solicitors called "Law Winckworth Sherwood" (but see below in relation to the details of a genuine firm and solicitor whose details are being misused in the letter).
Also, the website "www.swlaws.co.uk" is operating. This website has falsely cloned and misuses pages from the website of a genuine firm (see below), but provides only one, false, contact number of +44 20 3097 1792.
Any business or transactions through the website, telephone numbers or email addresses set out above are not undertaken by a solicitor's firm or a solicitor authorised and regulated by the SRA.
Is there a genuine firm or person?
The SRA authorises and regulates a genuine solicitor called Andrew Bedford, who is a member of Winckworth Sherwood LLP (which trades as Winckworth Sherwood), a genuine firm of solicitors which is also authorised and regulated by the SRA.
The genuine firm’s head office is based at 5 Montague Close, London SE1 9BB, with a genuine DX address of 156810 London Bridge 6. The firm’s head office general telephone number is 020 7593 5000 and the website address is www.wslaw.co.uk.
The genuine firm also has genuine branch offices at 2 Chawley Park, Cumnor Hill, Oxford, OX2 9GG and Suite 209, 111 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2HY.
Both the genuine firm Winckworth Sherwood LLP and the genuine Andrew Bedford have confirmed that they have no connection to the website or letter 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.