Maidenhead conveyancers, Gordons Property Lawyers (GPL) have decided to beat the bogus law firms and combat criminal conveyancers through the introduction of Lawyer Checker into their due diligence processes. They, along with over 2000 conveyancing firms who are also registered to use the service, acknowledge that the threat from cyber-crime is a very real and true one.
They are right. In 2014, the SRA received 701 reports on Bogus Law firms, representing a 28% increase on 2013 and a 101% increase on 2012.
Last year the SRA published 183 alerts to the law firm community with regard to the identification of bogus law firms. The body has spent the last three years warning the industry about the threat of cybercrime. This very real risk has not eased; criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to obtain money or sensitive information fraudulently.
Paul Philip, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Chief Executive, said:
“Law firm client accounts are being targeted and solicitors and their clients are suffering disruption and potential loss. It is essential that firms understand the risks and take precautions to avoid falling victim to these attacks. This is an issue that is not going away.
“This is obvious not just from the reports we are receiving direct from law firms and members of the public, but also in our discussions with local law societies.”
This information is scary for both the general public and law firms alike. Criminal gangs are after mortgage and buyers’ monies in property transactions and they are clever. Nevertheless, whilst they may well know how to steal the identity of a firm and of a hard working honest conveyancer, there is one thing that they cannot infiltrate or steal – the bank account number and sort code of a firm’s client account. What is Lawyer Checker and how does it work? An established and now well-known risk and fraud management service, Lawyer Checker’s Account and Entity Screen (AES) provides conveyancers with enhanced risk management in property purchase fund transmission. The service checks the bank details, the account number and the sort code, given by the seller’s conveyancer against its unique database.
The team at Gordons are dedicated to placing their clients first; especially the protection of client money. They are community and client focussed with a very clear and transparent approach to their business. This includes ensuring their clients understand the full transactional process – even the potential pitfalls.
Through the implementation of Lawyer Checker, Gordons place themselves in pole position to prevent this fraud from happening. Their expert team are now able to make an informed decision alongside their nominated COLP (Compliance Officer of Legal Practice) as to whether the account provided is a legitimate one.
Commenting on the introduction of this enhanced procedure, Kerry Davies Customer Experience Director says:
“GPL are committed to offering the best possible conveyancing service to all our clients. This not only means ensuring a client knows exactly what is happening in their transaction at any given time, but that their hard earned money is protected. We do this by using Lawyer Checker. Given the amount of differing types of fraud we are seeing in the conveyancing market, Lawyer Checker gives us peace of mind that we are dealing with genuine solicitors. We undertake two searches, one at the start of the transaction and a further check prior to exchange. This gives us time to investigate any possible discrepancies that may arise before we complete. We care about our clients’ money and protecting both GPL and our client against fraud. GPL’s use of Lawyer Checker enables us to demonstrate this.”