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Conveyancers advise agents about most recent scams facing industry

Conveyancing Association says fraud is a significant threat to the industry and has issued revised guidance on how to tackle it including using 'selfies' to validate documents.

Nigel Lewis

The Conveyancing Association (CA) has released its latest protocol list of 14 scams that the property industry regularly face as well as new advice on how to prevent them.

Phishing, smishing, vishing, CEO whaling and spear phishing are all warned about in the document.

These are different ways that fraudsters trick conveyancers and estate agents into revealing personal or corporate data such as passwords and account user names.

One tip the CA gives is that to prevent these scams, conveyancers should ask estate agents and lenders to validate documents by posing with them in a ‘selfie’ if they cannot meet them face-to-face.

Another scam the document warns about is when criminals clone the identity of someone receiving funds from a conveyancer, which the CA says can include estate agents but also clients, law firms and lenders.

It suggests conveyancers ‘hard wire’ the recipients’ bank account details into their system to prevent funds being diverted to a ‘cloned’ account.

Significant target

The protocol list is part of the CA’s ongoing campaign to stamp out cyber fraud within the property industry which it says is “a significant target for criminals” and that “our own and our client’s money is under threat”.

“This protocol is intended to deliver robust and efficient fraud prevention balanced between risk, profitability and the customer journey,” it says.

The campaign by the CA has been given momentum by several high-profile mortgage fraud cases including one that involved a gang stealing £1.2 million from a bridging loan firm.

And the recent Mishcon de Reya and Owen White & Catlin cases that involved fake vendors selling homes they did not own, and whose owners subsequently sued the conveyancing firms involved, have highlighted how vulnerable the industry can be to sophisticated criminals. Following an appeal, a judgement is still being awaited in these two cases.

Read the full protocol list here.



April 19, 2018

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