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Londoners are the house buyers most at risk of conveyancing fraud, according to new research from Barclays. The financial giant’s Digital Safety Index survey revealed that 13 percent of homebuyers in London are vulnerable to online swindlers who intercept emails from conveyancing solicitors and persuade the buyer to transfer thousands of pounds to the fraudsters instead.
This type of conveyancing fraud is often referred to as “Friday afternoon fraud” because this is the most popular time for transactions to complete while also giving the perpetrators the weekend to make off with their ill-gotten gains and cover their tracks.
The fraud generally involves cyber criminals hacking into the email system of the conveyancing firm or the client – and often both – sending false information that causes funds for the property purchase to be redirected to the criminals’ own bank account.
Barclays has launched its own £10 million advertising campaign to increase public awareness of this sort of digital fraud, encouraging people to be more vigilant about their online financial safety.
Chief executive of Barclays UK, Ashok Vaswani, said: “As a society, our confidence in using digital technology to shop, pay our bills and connect with others has grown faster than our knowledge of how to do so safely. This has created a ‘digital safety gap’ which is being exploited by criminals. I believe the need to fight fraud has now become a national resilience issue, and we all need to boost our digital safety levels in order to close the gap.”
London is the UK’s most targeted city by fraudsters, its sheer size and much greater population making it an obvious focus. Liverpool (10 percent), Birmingham (nine percent) and Bristol (eight percent) were the next cities most at risk of fraud, while the safest cities were Leeds (two percent) and Manchester (three percent).
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory arm of the Law Society, reported in December 2017 that email hacks caused £7m of client losses over the previous year. This type of fraud accounted for 75 percent of all cybercrimes reported to the SRA.
To combat the threat and minimise the risk posed to both legal firms and clients, the SRA has made online security for its members a priority and offers up-to-date advice on protecting email systems and client confidentiality.
All firms on Capital Conveyancing’s London panel of solicitors and conveyancing solicitors are accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and regulated by the SRA, giving clients the greater peace of mind that their digital security is in safe hands.
Fran is the content writer for Capital Conveyancing, producing articles on all aspects of the conveyancing process and around the UK property market in general. If there is a topic you'd like to see covered on these pages, please drop Fran a line on [email protected]