It’s being widely reported that a new scam is targeting property buyers.
Criminals are monitoring e mails between solicitors and buyers – particularly first time buyers as this is where large deposits are transferred from the buyer’s bank account to the solicitor’s client account just before completion.
As soon as the criminals know that exchange is imminent, they send a fake e mail to the buyer explaining that due to an audit of the solicitor’s accounts, the buyer should arrange for the transfer of their deposit to a temporary replacement account. The account number and sort code are then provided. Apparently, it is impossible to spot that this is a bogus e mail and there is no reason to think that it hasn’t been sent by the solicitor.
Once the money is sent to the bogus account, the criminals can then take the money (cash withdrawal) and disappear. In a recent case, some of the money was retrieved for the buyer, but the remainder, a substantial sum, was withdrawn in three separate cash transactions and is now untraceable. (This theft was only detected when the solicitor made a call to find out why the deposit money had not been received.)
So what can you do to safeguard against this type of fraud?
We live in a technological age where we are all encouraged to rely more and more on electronic communication. Using encrypted e mails may be the solution, but apart from that, we would always suggest that personal contact is best. Pick up the phone and speak to your solicitor. Check that e mails are genuine – especially when you are about to transfer large sums of money or pass on personal details.
For advice on property purchase and getting the best deal for your new mortgage, please contact me >>