Bogus law firms

The following Practice Compliance practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Bogus law firms
  • What is a bogus law firm?
  • Types of bogus activity
  • How to spot a bogus law firm
  • Warning signs
  • Reporting suspicions and responding to fraud
  • SRA Red Alert line
  • Action Fraud
  • Responding to fraud
  • What can the SRA do?
  • More...

Bogus law firms

What is a bogus law firm?

The term 'bogus law firm' is used to describe a situation where a firm or individual that is not regulated by the SRA pretends to be entitled to carry out legal activities or calls themselves a solicitor. This is a criminal offence under the Solicitors Act 1974.

Criminals and criminal gangs pose as solicitors or law firms, either real or invented, with the intention of convincing and gaining the trust of members of the public and/or other law firms to get them to part with sensitive information, money or both.

These fraudsters often go to great lengths to ensure they appear genuine by either:

  1. taking the names of existing solicitors at existing firms, or

  2. creating authentic-looking profiles and websites that suggest their credentials are real

Fraudsters will directly target:

  1. individuals under the guise of being a genuine law firm or solicitor; or

  2. genuine law firms with a view to deceiving them into sending money or information

There can be serious financial consequences for unsuspecting victims who trust these fraudsters as genuine solicitors—this is especially true in the conveyancing sector, where the rewards for a successful scam are very high.

Types of bogus activity

Fraudsters will target genuine law firms, eg by claiming to represent a client on the other side of a transaction (such as a property purchase), or may target individuals directly

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