A recent report published by The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) state that email hacking of conveyancing transactions within the legal sector is now the most common cyber crime.
In 2016 there was a reported £7m of client losses via fraudulent activity, with a quarter of UK firms the victim of conveyancing cyber crime and nearly one in ten resulting in money being stolen.
At Fosters Solicitors we understand that cyber crime is now one of the fasting growing areas of crime in the UK. We also understand that as a law firm, we deal with both sensitive client information and financials making us an obvious target for cyber criminals.
What is Conveyancing Cyber Crime?
- This type of fraud occurs when criminals intercept the emails between a law firm and the homebuyer or seller.
How can I tell if the email I receive from my law firm is fraudulent?
- The criminals will produce fake emails pretending to be from one of the parties involved in the conveyancing transaction and will usually ask for payment to be made into a new bank account.
- Majority of the time the payments are large sums of money which can be seen as normal for a property transaction. Sometimes they can ask for the entire funds.
- The emails are extremely convincing and therefore it can be difficult to tell fraudulent emails from the genuine emails your law firm have sent you.
What could the cyber criminals ask for?
- The main focus will always be financial gain, therefore it is extremely important to assess the content you receive via email including ensuring the email address is completely correct and there are no strange letters, numbers, incorrect capitalisation or anything that is different to other emails sent from the law firm.
- An example could be that the law firm is having issues with their main account and as such, money should be transferred to a different account to ensure your property sale or purchase still completes.
What happens if I fall victim to a fraudulent email?
- Worryingly, if you fall victim to conveyancing fraud and proceed to pay the funds, the criminals will take as much money as they can from you.
- You will need to contact your bank or building society immediately along with the other party in the transaction.
- It is vital that you also bring this to our attention immediately by contacting your assigned lawyer by telephone call or by communicating with our client care team on 01603 723703.
- You can also contact ActionFraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre who provide a central point of contact and sit alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).
How do Fosters Solicitors address these risks?
- If you receive an email from Fosters Solicitors requesting or providing bank details, please contact your lawyer immediately via a telephone call to clarify.
- Our bank details do not change during the course of a transaction.
- We cannot accept responsibility if you do transfer money into an incorrect account, we can only make you aware of the risks and process to ensure dealing with transfers of your money is carried out safely and securely.
- Please visit our website for further information on email security.