Property prices soar above £350k – and fraudsters know it, too
For most people, buying a property is likely to be the largest transaction they ever make. In March this year, according to Rightmove’s House Price Index, the average property value broke the £350k mark for the first time, with the average house price now reported to be £354,564. The Land Registry also reported an 11% rise in house prices year-on-year in February.
And it’s no coincidence that as house-prices have rocketed, so too has media exposure around property fraud. In recent months, there have been several such incidents including the shocking case in October when a Luton man’s home was sold without his knowledge. More recently, the ITV thriller “Our House” focused on the fallout of the lead characters home also being sold without her knowledge.
Illicitly intercepting conveyancing funds is a prosperous target
Intercepting home moving funds is a prosperous target for fraudsters, and they’ll try a variety of methods to make this a reality. Most generally, their methods involve impersonation of a real firm – in our analysis of the SRA’s 2021 issued scam alerts, 91% of all alerts related to some sort of impersonation of a real firm or legal professional. The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) states in their cyber security advice: “As our reliance on technology in the legal sector increases, so too does the risk that firms will be exposed to cybercrime. Firms provide a convenient doorway for fraudsters to access confidential information and client money and increasing numbers have been the focus of targeted cyberattacks”.
Email modification fraud was reported to be the most common form of cyber attack reported by firms to the SRA, accounting for 68% in their Risk Outlook. This method was behind the case of a homebuyer being scammed into handing over £640,000 to criminals after emails to their solicitor were intercepted.
Conveyancers are under pressure to demonstrate due diligence to both their insurers and clients against such threats, with the SRA stating “Firms that hold client money need to have appropriate systems and controls to protect that money and to comply with the SRA Accounts Rules. They must be able to monitor how well these systems are working. Steps that they can take include… considering using systems such as Lawyer Checker to verify that what is described as the contact or bank information for a third-party law firm is genuine.”
How conveyancers can demonstrate a commitment to fraud prevention
Dye & Durham’s Lawyer Checker solution has been mitigating risk against fraudulent conveyancing interception for over a decade. In the first six months of 2021, 1,300 notices were issued to conveyancers who incorporated the Lawyer Checker solution into their conveyancing. 10% of these notices related to SRA scam alerts, 13% to an SRA decision and 38% to an incorrect name – all red flags that the client needed to consider before transferring funds to their fellow conveyancer, to effectively safeguard against criminal interception.
Lawyer Checker’s unique algorithm will check the searched against conveyancer’s details with a real-time database resulting in a “frequent”, “infrequent” or “unknown” outcome. Lawyer Checker checks SRA scam alerts and helps safeguard transactions against human error and typos while also providing the most up to date information available. Included in a Lawyer Checker report are two searches: one which is usually completed at the start of the conveyancing process, plus a further check just before the funds are transferred, uniquely ensuring there have been no changes during the conveyance.
The Lawyer Checker reports are sent to the client as PDF which can easily be saved to file to demonstrate due diligence and best practice to the conveyancer’s regulator and insurer whilst also offering peace of mind to the client.
Award-winning fraud prevention
Dye & Durham’s Lawyer Checker solution was recently awarded “Risk & Compliance Champion of the Year” at the British Conveyancing Awards.
Join our webinar
Dye & Durham Insight & Data, Redbrick Solutions & CDS present: “Conveyancing Fraud Analysis – How do I protect my firm?”
Join us for a FREE webinar on Tuesday 12th July 2022 at 11am, as we explore:
- Fraud analysis – market patterns, trends, risk indicators that we add to Lawyer Checker checks
- Case studies of the risks associated with conveyancing fund transfers
- Overview of Lawyer Checker
- Understanding the results
- Advantages of using Lawyer Checker
- Best Practice
Find out more and register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/262308712115573004
This article was submitted to be published by Redbrick Solutions 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.