We don’t like this at all.
Not one bit!
We’ve posted before about an insidious rise in online scams around buying and selling your home here.
But look out – there’s a new Conveyancing scam on the block that you should be very, very wary of.
It even has it’s own name.
It’s called ‘Deposit Redirection Fraud’.
What is Deposit Redirection Fraud?
This scam occurs when a computer hacker monitors email communications between a solicitor and a client.
The computer which has been hacked is that of the client.
The scammers place unsuspecting malware to the client’s computer that lies dormant until…
Keywords are recognised.
The malware watches out for any keywords regarding requests for funds to buy a house or the payment of a deposit.
Then the scammers make their move.
They hack into the email account and contact the client disguised as the solicitor’s firm.
The scammers inform the client that the the Conveyancing firm’s bank account details have changed.
The scammers give the details of the “new” account for the deposit to be sent.
Unknowingly, the client transfers their money to the “new” false account.
Thus, helping the fraudster to run away with the deposit money that can be many thousands of pounds.
Organised online crime gangs have stolen around £10 million from hacking into email communications between Conveyancing lawyers and their clients.
A Recent Case Study Shows The Reality.
Sarah and Ritchie Tough have been in the news recently after losing a large chunk of money from their home-buying transaction.
Sarah and Ritchie Tough were planning to buy the home of their dreams in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.
When the time came to pay the deposit of £45,000, they received an email from their solicitors asking them to transfer the deposit and provided them with the account details.
However, a few days later, another email was sent claiming to be from the solicitor that their account was currently being audited.
The Toughs were asked to transfer the money directly to a new account number and sort code.
When the Toughs transferred they received a confirmation email stating that the transaction had been successful, so they spent the weekend celebrating.
Unfortunately, their jubilations didn’t last long.
The following Monday, the Toughs were informed by their solicitors that they had not received the money and the emails concerning the change in bank account details and the confirmation of payment had not been from them.
A fraudster had hacked into the email conversation and manipulated the whole transaction.
It is still unclear as to which email account was hacked.
Luckily, the bank was able to claw back £22,000 of the Tough’s deposit money.
However, the remainder had already been taken out in three separate transactions by the fraudsters.
What can be done to prevent Deposit Redirection Fraud?
Both lawyers and clients need to be vigilant with all emails.
If you receive a last-minute bank account amendment email, make sure you double check with your Solicitors – preferably visit the office, or if that’s not feasible, speak on the phone with your Conveyancing Solicitor.
What Clutton Cox does to ensure you are not a victim of Deposit Redirection Fraud
We would never send you last-minute emails informing you that our account details have changed.
We never deal with bank details by email.
We send a letter right at the start of your transaction informing you that:
We will not change our Bank Details during your move.
Communication is key. If you are unsure about anything, talk to your Conveyancer.
Face-to-face communication is the most secure way.
But, you also need to be vigilant and treat email communication with suspicion whenever it involves requests for the transfer of monies.
You can never be too careful in these circumstances; there’s a lot of money at stake.
If both Conveyancers and clients are aware of the potential dangers and take the right precautions, then we can fight Deposit Redirection Fraud together.
If you’re in the early stages of your home move, then why not download our free E-Book: Conveyancing Crammed into Bite-Size Chunks: First Bites. Get useful and easily-digestible information ranging from how to choose the right Estate Agent to why you should carry out a survey.