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Scams and Frauds

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Please be aware that criminals may pose as someone from Herbert Smith Freehills, in order to carry out scams or frauds.

What to look out for

Scams will often originate by email and may take a number of forms, including, but not limited to:

  • telling you that bank account details have changed
  • false invoices for legal services
  • urgent requests for payment seemingly coming out of the blue
  • offering money
  • bequests under a will
  • threatening legal action if the victim does not respond
  • malicious attachments made to look innocuous such as an industry update
  • requests for password or bank account details and links to helpful or relevant websites

A key element of scams of this type is the enticement of the victim to enter into some form of communication with the scammer, or making the victim take some action such as clicking a link.

These scams can take many forms. Recent fraudulent communications where Herbert Smith Freehills’ name has been used contained the following red flag features:

  • Change in bank account details. Herbert Smith Freehills will never advise of a change in our bank account details in the body of an email. It would also be highly unusual for us to advise of our general bank account details in the body of an email (as opposed to a letter or invoice). If you receive an email of this nature, you should check on the telephone with a Herbert Smith Freehills person known to you before making payment. 
  • An unusual originating email address. All authentic Herbert Smith Freehills email addresses use a standard form – firstname.lastname@hsf.com. Any communication purporting to be from Herbert Smith Freehills but not using this email format is more than likely fraudulent.  Please also be aware that email addresses can be spoofed, so you should check that the reply-to address is not unusual.
  • Email missing invoice attachment. In some cases, a perpetrator may send an email without attaching an invoice, in order to prompt the recipient to respond to request the attachment, building a degree of rapport or trust.

A communication containing any of these features is highly unlikely to have originated from any Herbert Smith Freehills entity, and should be treated with caution.  If you receive an email or invoice with any of these features, do not correspond with the sender. Please report the incident to security@hsf.com immediately.

Please note that the above is not an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to take action with respect to any emails that seem suspicious, whether or not they contain any of the aforementioned features.

Reporting incidents

If you receive a communication purporting to be from Herbert Smith Freehills that you believe may be fraudulent, or you wish to clarify the authenticity of any invoices or emails that appear to have been sent to you by the firm, please contact us at security@hsf.com.

We routinely report scams constituting crimes to law enforcement agencies, but it is impossible for us to completely put a stop to the fraudulent use of our name and the names of our lawyers for this purpose. We appreciate you providing us with any information which may assist us in identifying those responsible for scams, and encourage you to report any confirmed incidents of fraud involving the use of the Herbert Smith Freehills name and the names of our lawyers to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) for those based in Australia, or Action Fraud for those based in the UK.

The Solicitors' Regulation Authority also maintains a website listing known scams involving UK law firms at http://www.sra.org.uk/alerts/.

Recent incidents

Below are examples of some recent incidents of fraud/scams involving Herbert Smith Freehills that have been reported to us. This list is not exhaustive.

FALSE DOCUMENT LINKS

October 2020

We have been made aware of a series of incidents involving the receipt by various individuals of emails containing false documents and/or links, purporting to originate from HSF.

These emails, originating from email addresses not containing the Herbert Smith Freehills domain name, contain a link to documents that the recipient is prompted to download and respond to.

Any legitimate HSF email or document will always be sent from a standard Herbert Smith Freehills email address (firstname.lastname@hsf.com) and, subject to specific arrangements that you have organised with us, should always come from the partner or solicitor who completed the work for you.

Please contact security@hsf.com if you receive an email containing any of these features.