Conveyancing fraud: payment diversion

People are increasingly attempting to buy real estate, with the goal of fooling you into giving them your house deposit and/or the remaining amount of purchase cash.

Frequently, the thieves will disguise themselves as your attorney in order to deceive you into sending your money to an account under their control.

Be very cautious if any changes in payment information are noticed, and double-check by calling your lawyer before sending money, as emails could be intercepted or delayed.

You may check the account by sending a small amount to the details provided and seeing that your lawyer has received it before moving all of the funds.

Victims may lose hundreds of thousands of pounds, and they might never receive a refund.

A conveyancing victim loses £640,000 in a scam case study

As part of conveyancing fraud, a prospective home buyer was duped into giving £640,000.

Criminals had intercepted emails between the buyer and their solicitor. As a result, the criminals were able to obtain all of the information regarding the property purchase.

After that, the attackers created a phony solicitor email account (which was designed to deceive) and requested payment.

The house-buyers payment details were given on headed solicitors’ paper in the phony email, and the amount requested was exactly what he had anticipated paying.

The fake solicitor was later informed by the genuine solicitor that no payments had been requested.

The victim’s equity and savings were largely wiped out when only a fraction of the money was recovered, bringing about the victim’s bankruptcy.

The fraud had a significant long-term influence on the house buyer’s finances and personal well-being.

How to Avoid Becoming a Conveyancing Fraud Victim

  • Call your legal headquarters and get bank information on the outset of the conveyancing process, either in person or over the phone, and agree on a strong mechanism for any genuine changes in bank details, such as verifying them in person. Request that they confirm the information by post if you received it in person or over the phone
  • Bank details are seldom altered by lawyers. If you get an email or phone call claiming that your bank information has changed, be cautious. Always verify your lawyer’s bank information by calling them on their published number. Do not be rushed into making any changes until you’ve spoken to someone from the company. Check the email address against a phone number that you can trust to confirm whether the information is correct, rather than using the one provided in the email demanding payment.
  • Put passwords on your accounts that are strong and unique, and make sure that your devices have anti-virus software installed; these frauds frequently exploit email accounts to get unauthorized access. To make a secure password, simply choose three random words. If necessary, numbers and symbols may be included.
  • Do not discuss the purchase or sale of your property or obtaining a mortgage on social media. Fraudsters may steal this information and, knowing that the next step is a significant financial transaction, seek to victimize you.
  • When purchasing a home, avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks to check emails. Fraudsters can easily compromise vulnerable Wi-Fi systems.
  • If you are paying a debt for the first time, start by transferring a modest amount and then verify with the legal firm using established contact information that the payment has been received.
  • If you’re not sure about the deal, don’t send your money until you’ve confirmed it’s correct; can you afford to lose everything or the entire purchase price?

If you believe you have been the victim of conveyancing fraud, you should contact:

  • Contact your bank to notify them of the fraud, requesting that they contact the receiving bank and freeze the money.
  • Contact your lawyer and let them know; they may be the target of criminals, who might endanger other clients.
  • If you believe that you’re a victim of fraud, please contact Action Fraud; report any suspected fraud to Action Fraud on their website or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Extra resources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *