Homebuyers taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday have been warned to check before transferring deposits and balances to their solicitors. The warning follows cases of people being scammed into moving money into fraudulent accounts – crimes which could reach a peak as buyers and solicitors race to meet the tax holiday’s 31 March deadline.
The scams often involve fraudsters hacking into buyers’ email accounts to replace solicitor bank details with their own. According to UK Finance, the body which represents financial organisations, £16.2 million was stolen in this way during the first six months of 2020 alone. The Guardian has also reported on cases where up to £300,000 was stolen.
Other examples of home buyer fraud include emails purporting to be from estate agents offering homebuyers a refund if they supply bank details. Identity fraud, when movers fail to have their post redirected, is also an issue.
UK Finance warns buyers to be wary of any emails showing a change in bank details and of duplicate invoices, advising them to always double check before transferring funds.
To avoid the risk of identity fraud, inform banks of your new address when moving house, as well as using a mail redirection service.
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance said: “Moving house can be a stressful time; however, it’s vital to remember to take steps which could keep you safe from scams.
“This includes letting your bank and other organisations know that you’ve changed address, making sure your mail is secure, and ensuring the recipient’s bank details are correct when paying large amounts of money during the house buying process, such as your deposit.”
Read more about this story in the Guardian.