The Conveyancing body CLC have sent a warning to Conveyancers regarding the increase of bogus offices set up to clone legal practices, ultimately to steal mortgage loans and client information. Conveyancers were warned not only to be aware of other law firms being cloned, but also of the risk of it happening to them. Fraudsters can get away with this by having identical letter-heading, website design and even controlling email accounts and telephone numbers.
The CLC proceeded to provide Conveyancers with vital steps to protect against this happening.
- Be alert of suspicious activity or transactions e.g. others believing you are involved in a transaction when you are not
- Check the internet by searching your name, names of fellow conveyancers and the firm’s name — to see if there are any false offices/websites
- Check that your contact details are correct on the CLC’s license register
Things to look out for when spotting a bogus firm are as follows:
- Check the bank account name or details are different from those on the relevant register
- If the account is held overseas or based in a different part of the country
- The conveyancers office is located a considerable distance away from the firm’s head office or other offices
- Inconsistent telephone numbers, numbers without a land-line facility or those which divert to a call-back facility.
- Generic/personal email addresses which do not relate to the company
With PII renewals looming next month, the CLC sends out a stark warning to Conveyancers striking a chord with the industry. Conveyancing firms in particular are being urged to mitigate potential risks and enhance their compliance with appropriate systems and controls. They stated; “These controls need to respond to changing risks. Being caught out by a bogus firm can also impact on the cost of professional indemnity insurance.”
Don’t get caught out by the criminal conveyancer; protect yourself , your firm and your client with the implementation of checks which prevent, protect, detect and mitigate the loss of client purchase funds.