Residential Conveyancing - Online fraud

Warning: Increasing risk of online fraud - please stay vigilant

Fraud is a growing problem for all of us therefore it is vital that you are vigilant and safeguard your personal and financial information.

The increase in fraud highlights the growing threat posed by scams, as well as the growth in sophisticated online attacks such as data breaches and malware. Criminals are targeting customers directly, using scams to obtain personal information and in some cases transferring money directly to the fraudsters.

One of the current tactics that we want to make you aware of is how fraudsters hack into email chains between a house buyer or seller and their solicitors

The fraudster monitors the communications using malware that looks for keywords like house purchase, deposit, buy and payment and then they make their move.

They hack into the email account and contact the client disguised as their solicitor’s firm. The fraudsters tell the client by email that the solicitor’s bank account details have changed and give the details of the ‘new’ account for the deposit/purchase funds to be sent to.

Unknowingly, the client transfers their money to the ‘new’ false account. The false account is owned by the fraudster, leaving the client at a substantial financial loss.

Unfortunately, in these circumstances, the funds cannot be recovered because they are authorised.
Advice on protecting yourself:

  • Don’t feel pressured into changing any bank details. If you receive an email stating a change in the bank details, you should ring your solicitor on a previously used telephone number. Hunt & Coombs LLP will not email you to tell you that our bank details have changed;
  • Check the email address carefully and if in doubt phone your solicitor to check the information is correct;
  • Buyers and sellers should avoid using public Wi-Fi systems to check emails when house purchases are being made. Fraudsters can easily hack into vulnerable Wi-Fi systems; and
  • Avoid sharing social media posts about buying/selling your house. Fraudsters may get hold of this information and know the next step is a large financial transaction.

At Hunt & Coombs Solicitors, our systems and technology enable us to ensure that the data we hold is confidential and secure. We take fraud seriously and have systems in place to help protect us, for example we have CEO impersonator tracking software in our email system. We will continue to strive to stay at the forefront in cyber security and are currently working towards the National Cyber Security Centres’ Cyber Essentials Accreditations.

Download our advice on protecting yourself against online fraud here


Contact us

For further help and advice on the above or to request a quote please contact your local Conveyancing Team on:

  • Peterborough  01733 882800
  • Huntingdon     01480 411224
  • Oundle            01832 273506
  • St Neots          01480 702207
  • Cambridge      01223 463183