Fake law firms ‘on the rise’
Scottish solicitors and members of the public are being warned to be on the alert for fraudulent law firms by the Law Society of Scotland.
Qualified solicitors are increasingly being targeted by fraudsters using their details on fake law firm websites and the Law Society is asking its members to be vigilant and to take action if they find their own or colleagues’ names being listed on the website of a firm they don’t work for.
Earlier this month, Capital Defence Lawyers in Edinburgh became subject to identity fraud when they found their details listed on a website for “Carter Legal Associates”.
Solicitor advocate, John Scott QC at Capital Defence Lawyers, said: “It’s very unsettling to see our information being used to trick people into contacting a fake law firm, and potentially falling for an online scam. The whole experience has been very time-consuming and stressful
“In addition to the risk to the public there’s a reputational risk for us having our names linked to a ‘firm’ which exists solely to scam unsuspecting members of the public. We would recommend that anyone intending to contact a solicitor or law firm checks the validity of the firm on the Law Society’s website.”
For Capital Defence Lawyers, the experience isn’t over; as one website disappears, another one is created under a slightly different name. They continue to monitor the situation and deal with each new version of the imposter firm.
Ian Messer, director of financial compliance at the Law Society, said: “We can confirm that Carter Legal Associates are not a firm of Scottish solicitors and do not employ any members of the Law Society of Scotland. We have reported these instances to the authorities and are urging our members to be vigilant and to let us know if they find any illegitimate use of their details.
“Solicitors and members of the public should report identity fraud using the Action Fraud website and get in touch with the Society so that we can bring it quickly to the attention of the Police Scotland economic crime units who have been successful in shutting down similar pages.
“We have seen an increasing number of solicitors’ details being used on fake law firm websites recently. The websites look very professional and would appear to be credible apart from the fact that they are using names of solicitors who do not work there. It seems that this kind of fraud is on the rise and we would urge both solicitors and members of the public to be aware.
“We would advise anyone who is looking for a solicitor to look at the ‘Find a Solicitor’ section of our website to check their credentials. The information is updated in real time, and only solicitors who are currently entitled to practice are listed. While it’s highly unlikely that there is a problem, it is worth being cautious and double checking that your chosen solicitor is legitimate.”
To check solicitors’ details visit Find a Solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland’s website.
ENDS 20 February 2015
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for England and Wales has also published a scam alert for fake firms using the same phone number as Carter Legal Associates. More information about this can be found on the SRA website
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