Duplicate companies set up on Companies House...

Somebody has set up duplicate companies with minimal changes to company name...

Didn't find your answer?

So long story short, there is a company which we can call Firm Ltd.

I go onto Companies House and somebody has very recently set up two "duplicate" companies - companies that are clearly trying to copy it, with the names:
Firm "Services" Ltd.
and
Firm "Global" Ltd.

They have set these companies up as shell companies i.e. just bogus directors and a bogus address with no connection to the underlying firm.

My question is: what could these scammers be trying to achieve?

I have contacted Companies House but if there's anything else I can or should do, I can.

Thanks.

Replies (19)

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By David Ex
04th Apr 2024 13:09

If this affects you and you have any evidence that there is wrongdoing, contact Action Fraud.

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Replying to David Ex:
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By Davola171
04th Apr 2024 13:14

David Ex wrote:

If this affects you and you have any evidence that there is wrongdoing, contact Action Fraud.

They are sadly useless. For a very similar situation I reported to them and they basically said no action can or will be taken by them until I suffer an actual loss.

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Replying to Davola171:
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By FactChecker
04th Apr 2024 16:44

I can confirm that (about Action Fraud) from personal & bitter experience only a few months ago - albeit relating to personal identity theft (not what looks like 'passing-off' here).
They even used the exact same get-out phrase ... despite the fact that I could give them chapter and verse on very real losses suffered by 3rd parties (by a fraudster using my name) - but not interested because banks had accepted not my liability!
They are just a 'tick-box' on most 'what you must do' lists - but wholly ineffectual!

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VAT
By Jason Croke
04th Apr 2024 13:18

Scam involving cloning a reputable business in order to obtain banking or other financial benefits. maybe the scammers are working on less famous names but same intent.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-68156910

Of course it's not illegal to setup a company using any name, so if "Firm Ltd" is legitimate but I want to setup "Firm (UK) Ltd" then little you can do other than it becomes a legal matter if I pretend I am you.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By Paul Crowley
04th Apr 2024 13:39

That BBC reporter really has not worked in the real world.
He thinks brand new companies get instant credit and bank overdrafts within a day.
BBC really is going downhill.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By gillybean04
04th Apr 2024 14:33

At a firm I used to work at, we used to regularly receive notifications about firms who wanted to use a name similar to ours and asking if we had any objections.

It was at that point I learned that companies (and charities for that matter) can't be too similarly named and that just adding UK is a 'same as' name as opposed to just being similar. It doesn't require you to pretend you're the other firm though. Just for the name to be too alike.

Of course if the name contains Mc or Mac you can probably expect McDonalds to try and sue even if you weren't trying to copy them.

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Replying to gillybean04:
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By Paul Crowley
04th Apr 2024 15:01

The twots at Easy are the same
Just demonstrates that big businesses with big hammers can crush ordinary people.
I read somewhere about easy accounts or some such company getting grief.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
04th Apr 2024 13:18

The new company names are clearly not the same as Firm Limited so doubt Companies House will do anything, though maybe with the increased fees they will be getting they will tighten up on non-genuine companies.

What makes you think they are targeting Firm Ltd? How do you know names and addresses are not genuine?

You would need pretty solid evidence of actual fraud to go to Action Fraud.

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Replying to Dougscott:
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By Davola171
04th Apr 2024 13:27

Dougscott wrote:

The new company names are clearly not the same as Firm Limited so doubt Companies House will do anything, though maybe with the increased fees they will be getting they will tighten up on non-genuine companies.

What makes you think they are targeting Firm Ltd? How do you know names and addresses are not genuine?

You would need pretty solid evidence of actual fraud to go to Action Fraud.

I have contacted the directors (or at least the individuals who have been cloned) and they confirm they have no connection to the company: I know this because one of the directors is somebody I know - their name is very unique and somebody has set up a second "profile" for them - same name and DOB on companies house, just a different address.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
04th Apr 2024 13:21

Is "Firm" genuinely uncommon enough that it cannot just be a coincidence? I've known more than one company name I thought would be unique to find it was already taken. Setting up variants, because someone still likes the main name, is not unusual.

Beyond the name, do you have any other evidence that the directors and address are "bogus"? If not, you want to be very careful what you do as calling them "bogus" and "scammers" could get in you in legal hot water.

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By Davola171
04th Apr 2024 13:24

stepurhan wrote:

Is "Firm" genuinely uncommon enough that it cannot just be a coincidence? I've known more than one company name I thought would be unique to find it was already taken. Setting up variants, because someone still likes the main name, is not unusual.

Beyond the name, do you have any other evidence that the directors and address are "bogus"? If not, you want to be very careful what you do as calling them "bogus" and "scammers" could get in you in legal hot water.

The company they are copying has a very unique name and so I can confident it is no coincidence.

I have checked the registered addresses and directors: they are definitely bogus.

The address is a random residential address and the directors are duplicates of people who appear to be genuine, but again with random addresses (in fact, the addresses too are almost the same - e.g. flat 100a and flat 100b respectively).

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By janelm
04th Apr 2024 14:00

My company is "XXXX UK Ltd", and someone formed "XXXX (UK) Ltd" at Companies House. Luckily I noticed within 12 months, sent in a 'too similar' complaint, and the new company changed its name. I'm still amazed that Companies House formed it in the first place, literally the only difference being the insertion of () brackets. (It was in a different industry and probably not a problem, but it seemed unreasonable).

However, it does not look like this would work for the names you have quoted, as the 'too similar' objection only works if they are virtually identical as above.

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Replying to janelm:
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By FactChecker
04th Apr 2024 16:54

That's what puzzled me ... over the last 30+ years I've helped various people to set-up a new company, and usually the hardest part wasn't the admin/form-filling but choosing an appropriate name.
And that always involved a trawl through CH for any similar names ... not just for common sense reasons, but because CH were known to be quick off the mark in refusing a registration where they felt (no specific rules) that the proposed name was too similar to an existing one.

Has that changed (or been watered down)?
The only 'loophole' of which I was aware was that as soon as a company was struck off or dissolved it's name disappeared from the 'checking' list - so that name could be promptly used by a newco (and was by a few naughty people)!

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By Davola171
04th Apr 2024 17:02

FactChecker wrote:

That's what puzzled me ... over the last 30+ years I've helped various people to set-up a new company, and usually the hardest part wasn't the admin/form-filling but choosing an appropriate name.
And that always involved a trawl through CH for any similar names ... not just for common sense reasons, but because CH were known to be quick off the mark in refusing a registration where they felt (no specific rules) that the proposed name was too similar to an existing one.

Has that changed (or been watered down)?
The only 'loophole' of which I was aware was that as soon as a company was struck off or dissolved it's name disappeared from the 'checking' list - so that name could be promptly used by a newco (and was by a few naughty people)!

I saw a company the other day that was identical to another, except that they had spelled limited as "li" and "mited" i.e. with a space in between...

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Replying to Davola171:
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By FactChecker
04th Apr 2024 18:01

Standards slipping ... I wish I was shocked, but that slide into the mire does seem to be endemic throughout public life now.

My only suggestion is to ignore the possibility/certainty of fraudulent intent (as no-one seems to be interested in prevention anymore) - and concentrate on protecting the good name of your company.
The cheap route (of unknown efficacy) will be to try to persuade CH that they are failing in their duties and that you are formally complaining about the similarities of the new company names.
The more expensive route is to get a lawyer to write to each newco threatening them with appropriate penalties if they don't agree to immediately cease and desist from their attempt to pass-off their company as yours.

[Of course the latter may only be pouring good money after bad if you believe the directors' names and registered addresses to all be fictitious!]

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Replying to janelm:
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By bernard michael
05th Apr 2024 10:01

janelm wrote:

My company is "XXXX UK Ltd", and someone formed "XXXX (UK) Ltd" at Companies House. Luckily I noticed within 12 months, sent in a 'too similar' complaint, and the new company changed its name. I'm still amazed that Companies House formed it in the first place, literally the only difference being the insertion of () brackets. (It was in a different industry and probably not a problem, but it seemed unreasonable).

However, it does not look like this would work for the names you have quoted, as the 'too similar' objection only works if they are virtually identical as above.

What makes you think CH actually bother to look for similarities

Thanks (0)
Replying to janelm:
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By bernard michael
05th Apr 2024 10:01

janelm wrote:

My company is "XXXX UK Ltd", and someone formed "XXXX (UK) Ltd" at Companies House. Luckily I noticed within 12 months, sent in a 'too similar' complaint, and the new company changed its name. I'm still amazed that Companies House formed it in the first place, literally the only difference being the insertion of () brackets. (It was in a different industry and probably not a problem, but it seemed unreasonable).

However, it does not look like this would work for the names you have quoted, as the 'too similar' objection only works if they are virtually identical as above.

What makes you think CH actually bother to look for similarities

Thanks (0)
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By Leywood
04th Apr 2024 14:16

Gosh you do seem to have a lot of bad luck, if your are talking about ‘Firm Ltd’ being yours. If so, maybe you are being targetted for some reason.

Although adding such words doesn’t mean cloning of course, as others have said. Many many companies have close names to others. Some take exception and get all litigious but many don’t.

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Replying to Leywood:
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By Davola171
04th Apr 2024 14:22

Leywood wrote:

Gosh you do seem to have a lot of bad luck, if your are talking about ‘Firm Ltd’ being yours. If so, maybe you are being targetted for some reason.

Although adding such words doesn’t mean cloning of course, as others have said. Many many companies have close names to others. Some take exception and get all litigious but many don’t.

\

Yes, given they have formed two almost identical companies on the same day, both with virtually the same residential address registered also (flat a and b of the same address) and have called these "Global" and "Services" makes me very confident they are trying to associate with the underlying company...

But it might be something I just have to watch for now.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
04th Apr 2024 17:08

I suppose, given that Companies House are supposed to be tightening up on new company formations, you could make a FORMAL complaint to Companies House that they have registered two companies that are clearly fraudulent and therefore being negligent in their duty and take it as far as you can. Keep us all posted!

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