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28th March 2023

Conveyancing scams: the cyber criminals targeting your property transactions

Conveyancing scams: the cyber criminals targeting your property transactions
Ben Gurluk
Ben Gurluk

Property purchases have been a long-time favourite with cyber criminals due to the sums involved and the predictable nature of when transactions will need to take place.

Email scams are currently the preferred, but not the only, method. Known as authorised push payment fraud, scammers will impersonate lawyers to divert payments to their own bank accounts.

A good example of this is the extra ‘s’ email scam. This is where an extra ‘s’ is inserted, by the scammers, into an otherwise genuine email address, for example at the end of the person’s or firm’s name. The change is so subtle so as to be easily missed, even by people who double-check. The fake email will then be sent to the victim requesting the exact amount the buyer was expecting to pay at the exact time they were expecting to pay it.

How to protect yourself from property scams:

  • You should receive guidance from your lawyer detailing the procedures the firm has in place to help you avoid falling victim to scams
  • Never rely on details sent to you via email. Always ensure that when it is time to transfer money you contact your lawyer directly on the telephone, on a number you know to be correct, to confirm bank details
  • Stay wary, even if expecting an email and always consider the contents carefully. If the contents causes you concern, such as an unexpected change of bank details, contact your solicitor to clarify
  • Use very secure passwords, which are not used for anything else, and are changed regularly, as well as keeping anti-virus software up to date.