A criminal law barrister practising in Auckland found a website purporting to be his own. It contained a photo of him, a biography, and offered the provision of legal services in exchange for upfront fees. But for an extra “n” in the website URL, there was no way for a member of the public to tell that it was a scam website.

The creator of the website used PrivacyGuardian, which is an online anonymisation service, to keep their identity a secret.

The barrister initially contacted the Internet domain registrar and web hosting company, but was told that they would not remove the website without a court order. He also filed a report with the police.

Around this time he became aware that a fake Linkedin account had been set up using his name and photograph, and representing him as a self-employed lawyer in Auckland. Again, the profile appeared genuine but for one incorrect letter n his middle initial. The barrister contacted the police who suggested he contact Linkedin directly.

By this time, he had already received an email from a member of the public who had been scammed by the website.

The barrister brought proceedings in the High Court of New Zealand. The High Court found the creation of the website to be false and misleading, and to have been created for the purpose of perpetrating fraud on members of the public. As such, the Court issued a take-down order for the website to be removed.

This order of the Court can be used to have the fake websites removed from the internet sites hosting them. The order was issued without the victim or the Court knowing who posted the fake sites.

If you believe that your privacy has been breached, or that you are the victim of an identity-related scam, speak with an experienced professional.


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