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

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15

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.

15 Comments

Legal Rec.

Owen & Harvey – Future “Top” regional firm!

(6)(1)

Anonymous

What a hatchet job! O&H are an unconventional bunch but they are good sorts. Browne Owen in particular is a lovely guy.

(8)(0)

Browne admirer

I couldn’t agree more. I was at university with Browne and he is a great guy. Admittedly he has his quirks (why the hell he insists on personally designing the logos of anything he touches is beyond me. You should see what he’s done to the golf club crest!) However he has done a wonderful job with O&H. I don’t doubt for a moment he will ride out this storm in a tea cup in his usual calm way.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Ctrl+C, Ctrl+P from Roll on Friday again?

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Ctr+f “roll”

No attribution given to RoF by LC.

Ironic really given the content of the article.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

There is attribution to the source of the story, Tuesday’s SRA scam alert.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

How about the partner pictures which were ripped from RoF, cropped, and then dumped here? I don’t believe LC has the journalistic ability to independently find that on their own.

(9)(0)

RoF Rozzer

Not surprised at all, it’s pretty much the new norm for LC anyway.

Talentless bunch of flogs.

(5)(0)

Human Resources expert

Quality pinch from ROF again Thomas, well done!

You’ll go far…rumour has it The Sun’s recruiters are warming up the phone already.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Their contact details as per their website is
Phone: +44 745 237 8809
+44 743 072 8809

I just called them up and it was a man with a strong African accent who had nothing to do with law. I suggest everyone bombards them with calls!!! They should not get away with this and bring our profession into disrepute.

(5)(0)

Scam-piinabasket

What I don’t understand is that the Law Society is happy to waste money suing Solicitors from Hell, but seems to be doing nothing to obtain an injunction against this bunch.

I also don’t understand what the point of the scam is: is “Owen & Harvey” trading in any way or is it all just an unfunny joke? The address on the website is 326 Vauxhall Road SW1, but there is no such road: Vauxhall Bridge Road SW1 exists, but not Vauxhall Road SW1. As “scams” go, it’s pretty crap.

(2)(0)

Anonymoose

I think the point is that it is combined with phishing. Email is sent out pretending to be someone from the firm who has money from a Nigerian prince etc. The mark will then Google the firm and decide it’s legit. That’s the intention anyway.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Probably isn’t a ‘scam’ at all. Maybe just someone messing around, maybe someone wanting to cause minor annoyance for Burges Salmon for some reason. I don’t think bombarding the number with calls is sensible, it was probably picked at random by the person making the website.

(1)(3)

Lord Lyle.

What’s a “top hit” on a web site? Are there bottom hits and middling hits? What are these?

(0)(2)

The truth

Insider job. No such thing as bad publicity.

(1)(0)

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