BBC highlights devastating reality of vendor conveyancer fraud.

BBC highlights devastating reality of vendor conveyancer fraud.

The BBC last night chose to air their consumer programme Fake Britain once again during prime time. The episode previously shown back in May highlighted the ease with which criminals can steal the identity of solicitors and law firms.
It is believed that there are at least 1400 criminal gangs trying to steal mortgage advances. The programme covered the case of Nick Christofi who lost £735k in purchase funds to fraudsters posing as Acorn Solicitors (a legitimate firm) and using the name of a retired solicitor. Mr Christofi’s claim for compensation from the SRA has been rejected; the SRA told the BBC programme that it regulated solicitors and not criminals; therefore people with complaints ought to go to the police.
The warning issued by the SRA in 2012 stressed that firms and consumers alike could not rely on its own list of solicitors on the Find A Solicitor list “as verification that the firm is genuine” when criminals managed to register themselves on this list. As recently as this year and within its second Risk Outlook, released in June, the SRA stated clearly that there has been an increase in firms targeted by criminals looking to gain a badge of legitimacy; by using the brand and identity of law firms. This is a very real and present threat; at the time of writing the number of alerts for 2014 so far stands at 108. A severe increase on last year’s total at 103.
With £600 million in property transactions exchanged every year, the world of conveyancing presents an obvious opportunity to fraudsters. It is therefore no surprise that 60% of the top 20 conveyancing firms have now implemented Lawyer Checker into their risk management regimen. 
The Lawyer Checker database has been created to demonstrate whether or not an account has had a track record of successful use within conveyancing and therefore shows that there have been large sums of money regularly transacted. With approximately 500 firms registered across England and Wales, the database only continues to grow with use.
Fake Britain spoke with Nick Christofi’s lawyer David Robinson, Partner at Holman Fenwick Willan. Last night Robinson advocated the use of Lawyer Checker and its product the ‘Account and Entity Screen’ as being a ‘go to’ check for both conveyancers and consumers in the fight against vendor conveyancer fraud.
Mr Robinson, known for his specialists work in the field of insurance coverage and professional liability went on to advise any would be purchaser: 
“Check up on the vendors’ solicitor’s name. Use all the checks that are available. Lawyer Checker is one; don’t search the internet just for the cheapest price. It’s a big transaction; it’s worth spending a few extra pounds to get peace of mind.” 
Consumers took to twitter last night with their comments on the issue and the Lawyer Checker phone line saw a sharp increase in enquiries by consumers in the morning immediately after the programme aired. It is time for those law firms who have not got such checks in place to stand up and be counted. Ensure your adherence to Rule 10 — ensure you are protecting your client money by having a Lawyer Checker check performed on the recipient account number and prove your due diligence to both the mortgage provider and your client.

Lawyer Checker

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Provider of market-leading risk management solutions to the legal sector.

Lawyer Checker is a leading provider of risk management solutions to the legal sector, offering a full inclusive suite of products and services which have one thing in common – they are all designed to protect and to promote your firm.

Our expert understanding of the legal sector means that we are in a unique position to ensure that your business is protected from the main threats without delay.

We are committed to being proactive when it comes to caring for our clients, and to getting them onto a platform where they are safer.

What does Lawyer Checker do?

Our suite of fraud prevention and cyber security products include:

Thirdfort is the latest in Lawyer Checker's innovative suite of products helping to defend law firms against the persistent threats lurking in the legal sector, by providing enhanced due diligence to source of funds and ID checks. It uses a mobile app to digitally confirm a client's identity by combining facial recognition technology with document scanning and open banking, enabling you to confidently “Know Your Customer." Find out more >

Account and Entity Screen (AES)
AES provides your firm with enhanced risk management when transferring funds by checking the accounts details of a solicitor you are sending funds to against our unique database. This ensures your client funds are sent to a legitimate bank account associated with the vendor’s conveyancing firm. Find out more >

Consumer Bank Account Checker (CBAC)
CBAC offers enhanced due diligence when remitting sales proceeds and balancing payments to consumers. It works by validating the source and destination of funds by checking the bank account details match your client’s personal details when sending or receiving client funds. Find out more >

A vital layer in protecting against email modification fraud, OnDMARC can actively block phishing attacks and obstruct 3rd parties impersonating your email domain to any recipient such as your clients, suppliers or employees. Email fraud is a law firm’s biggest risk. To avoid sensitive data being stolen through email impersonation fraud, safeguard your firm by implementing OnDMARC, otherwise anyone can send an email directly to your customers, suppliers or employees pretending to be you. Find out more >

Cyber Certifications

The National Centre for Cyber Security has identified the legal sector as a top target for cyber criminals. The sensitive data, large sums of money and important information that is held needs protecting to avoid severe damage to clients and your reputation.

Cyber Essentials
Cyber Essentials is a ‘must have’ certification for law firms which will protect your business, prevents data breaches and highlights to your customers, your regulators, the ICO and cyber criminals that you take cyber security seriously and shows you have taken the recommended steps to secure yourselves from potential threats. Getting Cyber Essentials certification for your firm is quick and easy, our in-house expert Cyber Essentials Assessors at Lawyer Checker (Part of Practical Vision Network) can conduct your online assessment and issue your certificate in less than 48hrs. For only £350 plus VAT it will give you peace of mind that you have shielded your law firm from cyber risk.

Cyber Essentials Plus
Our professional in-house assessors can issue official certificates to compliant firms for Cyber Essentials Plus, which is the next step up from Cyber Essentials. It covers the same controls but this time it is independently verified by a site visit from our expert assessor who will carry out a thorough inspection of online devices and web hosts through a detailed network vulnerability scan and certify your security arrangements to Cyber Essentials Plus level.

IASME Governance
Our expert in-house assessors can issue official certificates to compliant firms for IASME which includes Cyber Essentials certification along with a GDPR readiness assessment. It signifies to your customers and shareholders that you consider data protection a priority, and your desire to manage risk by demonstrating a high level of security. This certification is particularly suitable for businesses that are working towards ISO27001 and want a stepping stone, or for those that want to align to ISO27001 but perhaps don’t have the budget to go to a full certification.

ISO 27001
Our expert in-house consultants will help your firm prepare for ISO 27001 certification audits. It is internationally recognised as the most comprehensive and detailed accreditation to help embed a healthy security culture within your business. The consultation focuses on all business areas and not just the IT department. Our execution experts can work with you to implement ISO27001 in a way that works for your business and can provide as much or as little support as you need from project plans, document templates to full implementation. Our professional assessors can even help you to book and prepare for your certification audits.

To safeguard your business, use Lawyer Checker’s comprehensive products and services to arm you and your law firm with the right tools and information to be able to obtain the assurances you need to act in the best interests of your clients.

Key contacts:

Heidi Jenkins
Key Relationship Manager at the Practical Vision Network including Lawyer Checker, Solve Legal Marketing and The Move Exchange.
M: 0330 052 7588 E: [email protected]

Mark Siwiec
Business Development Manager (Cyber) at the Practical Vision Network including Lawyer Checker, Solve Legal Marketing and The Move Exchange.
M: 03300529150 E: [email protected]

Suite 4, Wright House, 67 High Street, Tarporley, Cheshire, CW6 0DP

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