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Blog

Down the drain

28 Oct 2015   |   0 Comments

Who has put their hands in the back pocket of a freshly washed pair of jeans and pulled out what was a £20 note but is now a compressed unusable mess?

Its gutting, and we punish ourselves thinking how we could have spent that £20!

But imagine losing a lot more than that – the price of a property for example or sizeable deposit.

It’s a scary thought, but it happens more and more frequently as hackers decipher conveyancing solicitor’s emails to their clients, giving them rogue bank account details and disappearing with the funds.

CDS have joined forces with Safe Move Scheme who are offering our clients a new online service recently launched to protect conveyancers and buyers from the threat of cybercrime, which is sweeping the industry.

With more reports coming in of people who’ve lost money through transfers to bogus law firms, the new system – Safe Move Scheme – aims to give both parties protection through the Safe Buyer product.

In one of the most recent incidents, cybercriminals cloned a buyer’s solicitor’s website and email account, receiving £77,000 transferred by Amanda Jackson (the buyer). In another example Vivian Gabb, a teacher from London, is still almost £50,000 out of pocket after falling victim to the same scam. 

“Recent media attention around fraudsters intercepting money transfers by posing as the buyer’s conveyancer has shown how easily buyers can be tricked by criminals into believing they are paying thousands of pounds into their conveyancer's bank account,” said Ed Powell, from BE Consultancy, the creators of the Safe Move Scheme.  “Nobody can prevent criminals replicating a conveyancing firm’s identity, but the Safe Move Scheme can prevent them stealing money from conveyancing transactions.”

The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (the SRA), admits these scams damage consumer confidence in law firms, which may be held liable for criminals cloning their identity. In a recent update, the SRA said: “Bogus firms pose significant risks to the interests of consumers of legal services as well as the wider public. This is particularly important as the scope for obtaining redress or compensation for victims of bogus firms is limited. Where a bogus firm takes advantage of ineffective systems and controls on the part of a genuine law firm, it too may be held liable.”

It’s not just the buyers who lose out. Cybercrime has a direct impact on law firms, as it threatens a firm’s place on lender panels and can jeopardize a firm’s ability to maintain professional indemnity insurance cover.

Ed added: “We have developed the Safe Move Scheme over the past three years in close conjunction with conveyancers and lenders who wanted to develop a means of preventing fraud impacting on their customers. We are getting a lot of interest from lawyers, and just this week signed up one of the top ten conveyancing firms.

“I have talked to the Housing Minister Brandon Lewis about the scheme and the Financial Conduct Authority is also aware of it. With the FCA wanting lenders to tighten up their processes and the SRA wanting solicitors to do the same, I firmly believe the Safe Move Scheme goes a long way to doing so."

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