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Law firm call-centre worker banned over fraud

Calls: Employee accessed files

A call-centre worker at a leading debt recovery law firm has been banned from working in the profession after trying to defraud debtors.

They were told that the payments they had made to the firm had not been received and should be resent to a different bank account.

Ibrahim Shazada Afzal, who worked for Leeds firm Drydens (now drydensfairfax), reached a regulatory settlement agreement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) making him subject to a section 43 order. This means he cannot work in the regulated profession without the SRA’s approval.

Mr Afzal worked at Drydens for less than six weeks; his job was to speak with debtors of the firm’s clients, who called with enquiries about their debts and to make payment.

The agreement said that Mr Afzal accessed at least two closed matters on the firm’s systems, and contacted the debtors on those files or gave their contact details to third parties.

The debtors were told that payments they had made in satisfaction of their debts had not been received and asked to re-send their payments but to a different bank account. The new account was controlled by a third party.

However, the firm was alerted to what was happening that day when it received calls from two of its clients’ debtors. Mr Afzal was immediately suspended and dismissed the following day.

In the agreement, Mr Afzal admitted that he had acted dishonestly.

The agreement said: “Mr Afzal’s conduct makes it undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because it was dishonest and demonstrates that he may take advantage of the trust the public and others place in solicitors and those who work in a solicitors practice, for his own benefit.”