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Scammers clone Burges Salmon’s website to create fake law firm

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Maybe avoid applying for a training contract with ‘Owen & Harvey Solicitors’

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Scammers have cloned the website of national giant Burges Salmon in what appears to be an attempt to add an air of legitimacy to their fake law firm creation.

Whoever is behind the fictional ‘Owen & Harvey Solicitors’ has reproduced large sections of Burges Salmon’s official online offering, including — rather cheekily — the real profiles of some of the firm’s senior lawyers.

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The site — which is still live — has pinched, among others, the online bios of Burges Salmon partners Paul Browne and Graham Soar. According to the fake profiles, Browne — whose name has been changed to ‘Browne Owen’ — made partner at the fictional outfit in 2000.

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Information about Soar, who the scammers renamed ‘James Harvey’, has also been lifted directly. He apparently “joined Owen & Harvey Solicitors in 2004 from Slaughter and May”.

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There are, however, several tell-tale signs that something isn’t quite right with Owen & Harvey Solicitors.

Firstly, the very basic firm logo (pictured below) created by the fraudsters appears to have been done on Microsoft Paint. Secondly, a quick navigation of the site reveals many of pages on the website do not work. Hoping to apply for a training contract at the “leading UK law firm”, Legal Cheek was — somewhat disappointingly — greeted with a dead link.

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The existence of the site — which was created earlier this year, according to a domain registration search — has since been made known to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Issuing a “scam alert” on Tuesday, the solicitor’s regulator warned consumers that the firm was actually a fake.

Jeremy Dickerson, a Burges Salmon intellectual property and IT lawyer who handles similar issues for clients, told Legal Cheek:

As you can imagine, we’re pretty annoyed by this. We’ve informed the relevant bodies — including the SRA — and have asked their agencies to take the site down, which we hope will happen soon. The exact timings are subject to the ISP’s processes. In the meantime, we’re doing all we can to ensure that no one is affected by this fake site.

Happily for Burges Salmon, it seems to be winning the online battle with the scammers. A Google search of ‘Owen and Harvey Solicitors’ now produces a warning from Burges Salmon about the existence of the fake website as the top hit. In a worrying sign for the new kid on the block’s future growth, ‘Owen & Harvey Solicitors – UK law firm’ comes in second.