The Law Society of England and Wales has warned buy-to-let landlords and home buyers about a recent increase in property purchase crime.
The society is working the National Economic Crime Centre (part of the National Crime Agency) and Action Fraud to raise awareness of these scams, which have seen buyers defrauded of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In most cases, the scams involve criminals impersonating a lawyer to persuade home buyers to transfer deposits or balances into fraudulent accounts.
As part of their campaign, the organisations have issued flyers explaining the issue to solicitors. According to Law Society president Stephanie Boyce: “We are urging our members to share these flyers with their clients in order to help protect them from these highly-sophisticated and cruel schemes.
“These frauds can involve huge sums of money and have a devastating lifelong impact on the home buyer and their personal finances. Solicitors and their clients can all play a part in making such crimes more difficult for the criminals.”
Ms Boyce advised buyers to phone their solicitor to double check details before making a payment – as emails can be intercepted.
Jon Shilland, fraud threat lead at the National Economic Crime Centre, added: “Whenever a client is making a payment to their solicitor for a house purchase, they should be highly suspicious of any change in account details or new instructions [and] always check with a trusted known contact.” If in doubt, he warns, do not transfer the money.
Read more about this story on the Landlord Today website.