Coronavirus - Practical help for law firms. The likelihood of increased criminal activity
In our series of short blogs looking at some of the many queries received from our clients through our Ask Teal service, next we consider whether criminals may use the Coronavirus situation to their advantage during this period.
Question: Do you think that the “baddies” may try to use the Coronavirus situation to their benefit believing that law firm staff may not be as focused as usual on AML requirements?
Yes, we definitely do. You should make your staff aware that criminals may try and use the Coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to tell you that they are unable to provide you with the usual documents needed to verify their identify that you’ve asked them for, or with the bank statements that you’ve requested, and try to give you instructions that you would normally reject.
It takes discipline to adhere to your firm’s risk parameters for accepting work, particularly in these difficult circumstances when both businesses and individuals may be under financial strain. In the last recession we saw many examples of “baddies” approaching law firms with what were, essentially, scams, believing that firms may turn a blind eye and accept work that they would normally decline.
The message is, make sure that your staff stick to making effective risk assessments, that they are alert to the usual red flags and don’t take on work just because they need to hit your targets and feel under pressure to do so.