Scam alert: “Graham Kilbride” misusing the name of Donoghue Solicitors

 

Photo of Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, who reports on a scam alert.

Kevin Donoghue, solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors, warns of a scam involving someone claiming to be “Graham Kilbride” who claims, falsely, to work for Donoghue Solicitors.

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor

Today, I learned that a con artist claiming to be a “Graham Kilbride” has scammed an innocent victim out of £690 by falsely claiming to work for Donoghue Solicitors.

We are not involved, save that our firm’s name has been abused by the scammer. No such person has ever worked for the firm and, even though we have nothing to do with this incident, my firm has acted quickly to protect the public. We immediately reported it to the Action Fraud hotline and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

In this blog post, I hope to draw attention to the scam to help others deal with similar cons.

How the Scam Worked

These are the facts as I understand them:

The scammers victim, a woman, says that she received a call “out of the blue” from a Liverpool number: 0151 558 0109.

The caller said he was “Graham Kilbride at Donoghue Solicitors here at Hatton Garden.” He said he was calling about a claim.

By coincidence, the woman has an ongoing compensation claim with a different law firm in Nottingham. She assumed, wrongly, that this what was “Graham Kilbride” was calling about, even though he falsely claimed to be from a firm she had never heard of (Donoghue Solicitors). The fraudster told his victim that her compensation was waiting, but that she had to pay £690 by bank transfer to “release the funds”. Convinced that she was going to get her compensation, the woman got her partner to transfer the money.

Her compensation did not arrive.

But the victim later received a voicemail message from “Graham Kilbride from Donoghue Solicitors”. This time he requested “£1500 for a cross-border certificate to release the funds”.

At this point she became suspicious and reported matters to the bank. They advised her to call 999. She then emailed my firm to tell us about the scam.

How the Victim Could Have Spotted this Scam

Some “red flags” which stand out:

  1. the call seeking money came “out of the blue”. The victim had never heard of “Graham Kilbride” or Donoghue Solicitors before
  2. the phone number he used, 0151 558 0109, was not known to her
  3. the victim was already claiming compensation with another law firm based in Nottingham. They had not been in touch to discuss settlement terms
  4. she did not have a legal contract with my firm, or any others, confirming representation.

The victim could have avoided this scam by:

  1. contacting her lawyers in Nottingham direct, using the number in their letters/ emails, to find out if her claim had settled and why she was being asked for money by another firm
  2. checked Graham Kilbride and Donoghue Solicitors’ details on our website, or by calling us direct. She would find that we do not have a “Graham Kilbride” at the firm, no one by that name has ever been employed by us, and that we do not represent her or have requested money from her
  3. checked if the phone number he used was legitimate. Even though scammers can spoof phone numbers of genuine firms, in this case, the number he used was not connected to Donoghue Solicitors in any way.

What You Should Know About How We Deal With Clients

The public should know that we NEVER:

  1. contact people “out of the blue” like this
  2. seek money from clients to “release the funds” (compensation)
  3. seek transfers of money from clients in general unless we have legal representation retainers and formal arrangements in place.

The legal retainer (known as “client care documents”) is important because it includes full contact details for the lawyer dealing with each client’s case. These can be checked easily. We are always happy to confirm our details using our widely-publicised phone numbers (0151 236 1336 or freephone 08000 124 246), email (info@donoghue-solicitors.co.uk), or by visiting our offices at 25 Hatton Garden, Liverpool (get directions here). All of these details can be independently verified elsewhere, such as on the Law Society’s website.

Action Fraud and SRA Involvement

As I have already said, we are not involved in this matter, save for our firm’s name being abused. Despite this, we:

  1. involved the authorities by reporting the incident to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, and gave them the victim’s contact details (with her consent)
  2. notified the Solicitors Regulation Authority so that they can issue a scam alert on their website
  3. are publicising the matter on our website and social media feeds. That way, if anyone searches for “Graham Kilbride” or the 0151 558 0109 number he used, they will find out that he is a scammer.

I am sorry that this shameful incident occurred, and that an innocent woman has fallen prey to a scam. But I am glad that she got in touch to tell us what happened. I urge anyone who comes across similar scams to contact the law firms involved and Action Fraud immediately.

Kevin Donoghue is the solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors.