Payment Diversion Fraud: Criminals Have Always Been Enticed by the Huge Sums of Money Involved in Real Estate Transactions
During these hectic hours, conveyancing and their clients have frequently been targeted, as perpetrators realize that this is often a period for the highest number of property transactions.
Because stamp duty holidays have swamped the market, conveyancers have been “overwhelmed,” and as a result, payment diversion scams have increased in volume.
“In the year to September 2021, there have been 4,600 cases reported to Action Fraud, with individual losses averaging around £30,000.”
John Shilland, fraud threat lead at the NECC, said:
“Payment diversion fraud is increasing and it is vital that people are alive to the threat. Small and medium-sized businesses are most at risk due to less comprehensive IT security, but these criminals will also target home-buyers due to the scale of the transactions.”
Despite precautions, some customers are still taken by clever robbers who are continuously coming up with new methods to steal money. This often takes the form of someone posing as someone else or a company to trick the victim into sending money directly to the fraudulent party.
In a recent case study, one victim of Conveyancing fraud lost £640,000. Criminals intercepted email communications and subsequently created a phony email account to request payment in the correct amount on the right day. The bulk of the money was not recovered, leaving the client devastated.
What steps can I take to avoid being a victim of this sort of fraud?
- Choosing a trustworthy conveyancer with solid credentials is critical. A competent conveyancer will already have comprehensive security measures in place to assist their clients to avoid all types of property fraud.
- It is incredibly unusual for a conveyancer’s bank details to alter during the course of a transaction. Make sure you double-check your bank information. And don’t be scared to contact your conveyancer before sending money if you’re unsure. If you’re unsure, don’t send any money.
- Why not send a test payment first? Before sending a bigger amount, call your conveyancer to double-check that the ‘token’ amount has been correctly received.
- Be on the lookout for fraudulent communications. People are becoming warier of them, which is a plus. Criminals, on the other hand, are using increasingly devious methods to fool people, including texts messages and emails as well as phony phone calls. If you’re unsure, contact your conveyancer or make a visit in person yourself.
- Make sure you have strong passwords and that your anti-virus software is up to date.
- Make yourself unapproachable. On social media, revealing information about your house transfer may put you at risk of fraudsters.