The most common examples of conveyancing fraud include:
- The fraudster appearing to be the owner of a property and marketing the property through an estate agent, at auction or via the internet. An innocent buyer will view the property and sometimes even meet the fraudster. A price is then agreed and the buyer will instruct a conveyancer. It is then not until after completion when the monies are sent to the fraudster when the buyer is then unable to register the title, only to discover that the property they bought either does not belong to the seller or does not exist.
- The fraudster will hack into email exchanges between a client and their conveyancer. The fraudster will then send an email pretending to be the conveyancer and will provide new account details to the client. Quite often this will be at the point when the deposit is due or, even worse, when the completion monies are due.
Is my conveyancing negligent?
A conveyancer owes their client a duty of care to ensure the transaction is genuine and that they obtain the necessary ID. They must exercise a reasonable degree of care in taking measures to protect their client's monies from any kind of fraudulent activity. A conveyancer holds the deposit and completion money on trust.
If your conveyancer sends the funds to a fraudster then they are in breach of trust by way of the failure to take care and protect the money.
The Law Society's conveyancing Handbook for 2015 clearly warns:
"Solicitors should take reasonable precautions to ensure that sensitive information relating to bank account details which is sent to or from the client or third party by email is transmitted by a secure method, e.g. encryptions."
We can help you pursue a compensation claim for negligence in these instances.
How to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of conveyancing fraud.
Here are some ways in which you can minimise your risk of becoming a victim of fraud:
- Ensure that any emails containing sensitive information are encrypted.
- If you receive a suspicious email delete it and contact your conveyancer by telephone or in person.
- Request your conveyancer to confirm their bank details in writing.
- Should you receive an email asking you to send funds to a different bank account then always telephone or meet your conveyancer in person to verify the new bank account.
- Before sending any money to your conveyancer telephone or meet them in their office to verify their details.
What to do if you have been a victim of conveyancing fraud.
You should immediately contact your bank, your conveyancer and the police. You can also come to us for legal advice on resolving the situation.