Article by: Una Conlon
Over the past number of weeks the news has reported on a number of cases where fraudsters have been conducting sophisticated cyber schemes aimed at solicitors dealing with property transactions and their clients. These operations involve the theft of money during the times when the purchase or sale of a property is due to take place.
Solicitors have been duped into depositing funds into false accounts as part of in house purchase transactions.
The fraudsters are using a variety of cyber strategies and identity fraud. Specifically, they utilise “spear phishing” – i.e. targeting their victims by sending an email allegedly from a bank or other known businesses.
Grant Clemence, from QBE business insurance, speaking to The Times, alarming said the tactics were “sophisticated, organised and often indicate a degree of insider knowledge”.
In addition to Solicitor firms being singled out it also seems the fraudsters are ear-marking house purchasers. One recent victim, Amanda Jackson from County Down, lost almost £77,000.00 in an email scam whilst purchasing a new house. During what should have been a straightforward transaction ended with Ms Jackson having a “horrendous week” and feeling “helpless” as the money was transferred to a false account held by fraudsters who were impersonating her solicitor’s firm. Police are still investigating the loss of Ms Jackson’s money.
The Law Society has issued a public warning setting out that all parties involved in house purchasing should be “extremely vigilant” and clients should “always double check directly with their solicitor before transferring any money to their account.”
As a result of these serious scams, at Robert G Sinclair and Company Solicitors we have further reviewed our procedures to ensure that vigorous mechanisms are in place to protect all our clients, potential clients and staff from falling victim to these ruthless fraudsters. We work hard to ensure that our client’s best interests are safeguarded at all times and working to combat cyber crime is no exception.