There are significant risks posed by cybercrime, which specifically relate to email accounts and bank account details. In a scam known as payment diversion fraud, fraudsters trick you into transferring completion monies to them rather than to your solicitors.
Typically, in this type of scam, a fraudster will hack into your emails and gather information relating to your house purchase. The fraudster will then create a fake email account made to look like your solicitor’s email account and request payment of monies. In cases where money is transferred, victims rarely recover the money and this can have long lasting consequences for the victim.
Solicitors rarely change their bank account details from those provided to you at the beginning of a transaction. If you do receive an email or other communication from your solicitor asking you to make a payment to a different bank account, it is highly unlikely to be genuine.
What can you do to minimise the risk?
- Avoid social media posts about your house purchase. The increased use of social media makes it easier for fraudsters to target you.
- Set strong passwords on your email accounts to make it more difficult for fraudsters to hack into them and use different passwords for different accounts so that if one account is compromised, not all of them are.
- Ensure you have anti-virus software installed on your devices and keep it up to date.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi systems to check emails, as these can be easily hacked.
- When you receive a request for payment, check the sender’s email address carefully. In these scams, there may be a subtle difference in the sender’s email address and that of your solicitor.
- If you are concerned, do not be rushed into making a payment. Telephone your solicitor on their published telephone number, not on the phone number provided in the email, to check that the details are correct.
- Make a test payment to your solicitor of a few pounds first and call to check they have received it. Far better to lose a few pounds than a few hundred thousand pounds.
- If you do make payment but realise it is a scam, contact you bank and solicitor immediately.