Broadway Malyan and Aedas among those to have identities faked by firms bidding for work in China

British architects have been targeted by Chinese imposters who have stolen their identities, cloned their websites and submitted bids using their names.

Broadway Malyan has had its website cloned and a fake project pitch submitted, while Aedas had to close down a company that had registered in the UK under its name and was bidding for work with the Chinese government.

A source close to Broadway Malyan said that suspicions had been raised in the last couple of weeks when a client contacted the company to ask whether it had put in a bid for
a Chinese contract.

“They asked whether Broadway Malyan was interested [in the bid] - but [Broadway Malyan] hadn’t actually put the submission in,” the source said.

The client had been approached by a firm masquerading as Broadway Malyan in order to trade off the reputation of the UK architect, the source said.

“Someone had even cloned the website to make it look like them. They had gone to pretty extreme lengths,” they said.

Gary Whittle, director of Broadway Malyan, said: “We are aware of it and we are taking legal advice.”

David Roberts, chief executive of Aedas in Asia, said his firm was the victim of a similar fraud about a year ago.

“We had a company that took the trouble of registering in the UK, who took information from our website and bid for projects.

“They had submitted one or two bids, including for government projects, before we found out.”

Roberts said that Aedas managed to close the company down through the Beijing courts, but was never able to track down the Chinese doppelgangers.

It is understood that fraudsters have hit at least one other major UK practice in a similar way.

The scammers had submitted one or two bids for projects before we found out

David Roberts, aedas

Chris Hill, a construction partner at Norton Rose, said that although fake websites could be shut down quickly if they were hosted in a Western country, it was very difficult to prosecute those responsible under the Chinese legal system.

“It takes on average four to seven years to get a claim heard in a court. It’s a long time and with a variable outcome, due to logjamming, inefficiency and a hostility to foreigners.”

Nick Bolter, a partner at law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, said the deception could have been the work of one of two groups. “It might be that a firm of Chinese architects was looking to win work, or it could be a more conventional scam from a group that will disappear after the first payment has been made,” he said.