Due to a potential property fraud crisis in the UK, The Law Society has provided up to date advice and practice notes to its members on this ever-increasing problem. Property fraud is a serious ongoing issue in the UK with millions of pounds lost each year. ABC Finance has taken out a freedom of information request for the UK Land Registry. The research showed that the average property scam pay-out was just over £100,000 compared to the average online scam of around £600. These findings highlight the scale of the property fraud crisis.
All conveyancers need to be vigilant for the indications of property fraud. The Law Society details several warning signs including: The only contact details a party provides are their telephone number or email address. You are instructed by one party but you only communicate with the other by post, telephone, and email. Your client relies on utility bills as the only indication that they reside at the property. The seller does not live at the property.
Further warning signs are that information given by a client is different to information on the electoral register or if any changes are made during the process to your client’s details or the bank account where funds are being paid into. With property fraud rife and fraud methods changing all the time, anything suspicious and unusual needs to be addressed and steps should be followed to help tackle the problem.
Email impersonation fraud has become one of the law firm’s biggest threats with the number of email scams using legitimate law firm details increasing in recent months. Email fraud, in general, continues to be the most frequently used by attackers which is why it is perceived as the most dangerous threat. Identity theft and impersonation are a significant threat to a firm whereby criminals may impersonate anyone involved in a conveyancing transaction which includes owners, buyers, conveyancers, borrowers or lenders.
Redbrick Solutions use the very latest technology to make the conveyancing process as efficient and secure as possible. We take a serious stance on fraud in order to offer as much protection to our clients as possible. Our document sharing portal has the highest level of security available using two-part authentication. This enables you to share sensitive data, such as bank details, with your client whilst removing the risk of email interception and fraud. Redbrick Solutions also provide full identity checks. All of our AML/ID checks are fully compliant with the FCA, HMRC and SRA. You can also choose to accept proof of ID electronically via our secure portal. All of our security measures coupled with the advice from The Law Society can go towards protecting law firms from potential property fraud.