The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said today that money laundering reports, cyber crime and dubious investment schemes involving law firms are all increasing.

According to a new report, money laundering reports from law firms are up 67 per cent in 15 months.

Sixty cases were reported to the SRA in the first quarter of 2018 compared to just 36 in the final quarter of 2016.

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There has been £47.5m of reported losses related to dubious investment schemes since 2015.

Reports of cyber crime are also up 50 per cent year-on-year reaching a record level of 157 reports for 2017.

In the last two years cyber criminals have stolen £20m in client money from law firms.

The most common type of cyber crime against law firms is email modification fraud, where criminals intercept and falsify emails between a client and the firm leading to bank details being changed and money being lost.

The SRA said email modification fraud accounted for more than 70 per cent of all cyber crime reports.

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Other frauds including phishing, where criminals gain bank details from staff over email or the phone and ransomware attacks, where malware is used to encrypt a firms computers and files and a ransom is demanded in return for decrypting them.

Even the largest law firms can fall victim, with £1.8bn firm DLA Piper severely disrupted by a malware attack last year that affected its systems across the globe.

The SRAs chief executive Paul Philip said: “Although we know that very few solicitors would ever knowingly become involved in criminal or dishonest schemes, everyone needs to know the warning signs to look out for. It is important that law firms take steps to protect client money and information."

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