According to new figures, around £470 billion is lost to cybercrime each year, and in 2018 alone over £354.3 million was stolen via authorised push payment fraud. Despite these troubling findings, it’s believed the legal sector isn’t adequately prepared to prevent or deal with cyber attacks.
The conveyancing industry in particular is one of the most frequently targeted sectors. Due to the large number of high value transactions that take place, criminals can’t help but be tempted to infiltrate client/lawyer communications and divert funds.
First-time buyer loses £75,000
In 2018, first-time buyer Howard Mollett fell victim to a conveyancing cybercrime resulting in £75,000 being stolen from him. The catastrophic error happened when Howard wrongly transferred the money to someone claiming to be his solicitor online.
Mr Mollett was in the process of purchasing an apartment in partnership with UK-based firm Sethi Partnership and was completely unaware of the risks posed by cybercrime.
After making the down payment on his new London flat, Mr Mollett was asked to pay the remaining sum. After experiencing some problems sending the money, he emailed his solicitors asking for help.
At this point, cybercriminals seized their opportunity and intercepted the email, telling Mr Mollett that his solicitor’s bank was experiencing issues and that the completion date was at risk of being affected due to the complication. To avoid any possible delay, he was asked to transfer the funds into a different bank account – one belonging to the cyber criminals.
Despite contacting his bank and solicitors within minutes of making the transfer, Mr Mollett has only managed to salvage £8,000 of the original £75,000 sent.
As a conveyancer, how can you protect your clients?
First of all, remind them to always carefully check the emails they receive from you. The difference between an email from a conveyancer and a fraudster may be very small (a single letter in the email address), so it’s important that all your clients remain vigilant. Also tell them to look out for any changes in the type of language used or the header and footer images.
You should also make your client aware of the fact you wouldn’t change your bank account details during the course of a transaction, so if they receive an email with new details, they should report it immediately. Finally, if you never ask for clients’ bank details over email, make sure they are aware of this as well.
What else can you do?
It’s incredibly important for conveyancers to check the bank account details of the other solicitor/lawyer to ensure they are legitimate, and the best way to do this is to use Lawyer Checker. This platform enables you to gather essential information about the conveyancer to whom you’re sending money.
When you submit the details of the firm and its bank account, Lawyer Checker will determine whether that account is in use. If ‘infrequent’ or ‘unknown’ responses are flagged, it will carry out further investigations to help you decide whether it’s safe enough to transfer money.
Lisa Summerton Business Development Director commented:
“To find out more about how Lawyer Checker can help you, contact us at Searches UK today. Our friendly and knowledgeable experts will take the time to understand your particular needs and ensure you have a solution to protect your clients from potential conveyancing fraud.”
For more information about any of the products and services from Searches UK visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Alternatively call them directly on 0800 043 1815 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of their dedicated team today.
This article was submitted to be published by Searches UK as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.