The Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority (SRA) in England have issued many alerts regarding people pretending to be solicitors. The objective, in the main, is to rob people and/or legal firms of money. The SRA revealed that it is happening with increasingly regularity in recent times.
In Ireland this is happening to a lesser degree. Thankfully!
An example of a recent alert in England is =
“18 June 2015
The SRA has received information that “Peters and Oliver LLP” has provided a member of the public with an “authorization & retainer” letter and is operating the website www.petersandoliver.com.
What is the scam?
The SRA understands that a member of the public has been contacted in Qatar by an individual claiming to be from a law firm called “Peters and Oliver LLP”. An “authorization & retainer” letter has been sent to the member of the public in the name of “Peters and Oliver LLP”, with fees appearing to be requested for proposed immigration services. The contact address shown on the “authorization & retainer” letter is 15 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1BW, UK and the telephone number is given as 020 7822 7777.
In addition, the SRA is aware that the website www.petersandoliver.com is operating and claiming that “Peters and Oliver LLP” are based in the UK and Qatar. The website has:
- cloned some information from the website of a genuine firm of solicitors, including narrative and the names and photographs of some genuine solicitors, without the permission of the genuine firm or individuals (see below).
- provided contact information that includes: reference to a UK office at 15 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1BW, United Kingdom, the telephone numbers 020 7822 2222 and 0097 444 527976 and the email address email@example.com.
The SRA does not authorise or regulate a firm called “Peters and Oliver LLP”. Therefore, any business or transactions through “Peters and Oliver LLP” are not undertaken by a solicitor’s practice authorised or regulated by the SRA.
Is there a genuine firm or person?
Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP is a genuine firm of solicitors that is authorised and regulated by the SRA. Parts of its genuine website have been cloned by the bogus website referred to above. The genuine firm has confirmed that neither it nor its genuine solicitors have any connection to the letter and/or website referred to above.
The genuine address of Peters & Peters LLP is 15 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1BW and its genuine telephone number is 020 7822 7777. However, its genuine email address and website are firstname.lastname@example.org and www.petersandpeters.com respectively.
What should I do?
When a firm’s or individual’s identity has been copied exactly (or cloned), due diligence is necessary. If you receive correspondence claiming to be from the above firm(s) or individual(s), or information of a similar nature to that described, you should conduct your own due diligence by checking the authenticity of the correspondence by contacting the law firm directly by reliable and established means. You can contact the SRA to find out if individuals or firms are regulated and authorised by the SRA and verify an individual’s or firm’s practising details. Other verification methods, such as checking public records (e.g. telephone directories and company records) may be required in other circumstances.
A note of caution when using solicitors via the internet.