Conveyancing fraud, which was originally highlighted by The Telegraph, involves cyber criminals stealing funds from house buyers. The paper has reported a number of stories, where unfortunate home buyers have lost large sums of money and according to paper there are on average 2 successful scams every week, which provides the criminals with around £250k per week.
What is conveyancing fraud?
Cyber criminals, posing as solicitors or banks, email house purchasers requesting account details. The purchaser, believing the criminal is who they say they are, provides the account information. The criminals then go on to use the details to steal the funds online as the sale is about to be completed. Alternatively, the criminals may send an email which looks like it’s from the solicitor, asking for the final amount to be paid into a different bank account. It can sometimes take a day or two before the scam is discovered, by which time there is no trace of the scammer’s bank account.
How to avoid conveyancing fraud:-
- When you first employ a conveyancing solicitor, ask that they send you their bank details in the post.
- If you receive information changing the conveyancing solicitor’s bank account details part way through the process, double check the information is correct by telephoning them and ask for confirmation.
- When you start the conveyancing process give your bank details in person to your solicitor and instruct them to ignore any requests to change those details unless they are given by you in person.
- On any occasion you receive an email requesting extra information, or requesting bank account information, or asking you to transfer money, always telephone your solicitor to check that the details you have received are correct.
- Always check the ‘sent from’ email address – to ensure it matches the solicitor’s website address, or check previous emails from the firm.
If you are purchasing a new home and are about to engage a conveyancing solicitor, ask them how they will help you to avoid fraudulent transactions.
At Peter Robinson & Co. we tackle this problem seriously and will discuss the risks of cybercrime and how to avoid it with all our clients.
Remember, for most people this is the largest amount of money you will ever spend, so do not part with your cash until you are absolutely certain it is going to the right place, and if you have any doubts or concerns about cyber fraud, always speak to your solicitor first.
For further information about conveyancing, get in touch with Peter Robinson & Co.