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Payment Diversion Fraud with Conveyancing

Criminals are actively targeting property purchases with the aim of tricking you into transferring them your house deposit and/or the balance of purchase monies to them. These schemes can be highly sophisticated and almost always involve the criminals pretending to be your lawyer in order to con you into diverting your payment to an account they control.

Be extremely vigilant if there appears to be any change of payment details and always double-check by calling your lawyer before you transfer your money, as emails can be intercepted or diverted. You can test the account by sending a small sum to the account details provided and check that your lawyer has received this before transferring all of the money.

Victims can lose hundreds of thousands of pounds, and may never get their money back.

Case study : victim of conveyancing fraud loses £640,000

A house – buyer was scammed into handing over £640,000 as part of a conveyancing fraud.

Emails between the buyer and their solicitor had been intercepted by criminals. As a result, the criminals were able to collect all of the information relating to the house purchase. The criminals then used a spoofed email account (made to look like that of the solicitor) to request payment. Payment details were provided on the solicitor’s headed paper via the spoofed email and the amount requested was exactly what the house-buyer had expected to pay.

The victim was later advised by the genuine solicitor that these payments had not been requested. The majority of the money was never recovered, all-but wiping out the victim’s equity and savings, and leading to the collapse of their purchase. The fraud had a devastating life-long impact on the house-buyer and their personal finances.

How to protect yourself from becoming a victim of conveyancing fraud

If you suspect you have been the victim of conveyancing fraud you should immediately:

Disclaimer

This article was taken from the NCA National Crime Agency and Action Fraud. It is an article sent to Solicitors by the Law Society to share with their clients