FAKE law firms are getting hold of the credit card details of motorists in an identity theft scam.


The Law Society of Scotland has uncovered a series of websites that claim to represent legitimate firms of solicitors.

However, the businesses - which claim to be able to cut the cost of road traffic fines - do not employ any lawyers represented by the Society.

The sites claim to represent companies - such as Carter Legal Associates, Black Friars Legal and Falcon Legal Aid - that simply do not exist.

It is understood that the sites do in fact sometimes pay traffic fines for motorists but are believed to be engines for gathering banking and other details.

The sites are effectively a clone of that of award-winning Edinburgh practice Capital Defence Lawyers (CDL).

They use more of the material from the CDL site but change key details, such as name, address and telephone number.

Carter, for example, lists an Edward Scott QC as being one of its partners.

John Scott QC, of CDL, has a nearly identical CV.

He 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."

The Carter Legal Associates site has existed for a number of months. Other clones are now emerging of Capital Defence Lawyers' site. Specialist cybercrime detectives from Police Scotland are now investigating.

It is against the law to falsely represent yourself as a Scottish solicitor. But it is not clear whether those who do so are based in the UK or overseas.

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.

"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."

Mr Messer added: "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."

The Herald tried to contact Carter Legal Associates and Falcon Legal - the two sites have the same number. There was no reply. The sites listed what appear to be fake addresses in Edinburgh and Prestonpans, East Lothian.