How can firms protect against fraud?
On the 1st August I received two emails from Bold Group members. The first one informing me that they had received what purported to be a new email instruction with an attachment which affected their computer when opened. The second email explained how a firms email address had been obtained and that as a result, completion monies had not been received by the sellers solicitors and the funds had gone elsewhere.
The first of these instances have been reported by me to the SRA, the second is now in the hands of the police and investigations are ongoing.
Bold Group members have taken immediate action to ensure that they don’t get caught out in the future.
One firm emailed: “Rob, thank you for informing us about such an important development, we are going to amend our exchange letters immediately. The problem is that non Bold Group members are not being updated as quickly or efficiently about matters like these, if at all.”
Another said: “Assuming the firm is not local to and known to us and in order to protect us we use — (a) Find a Solicitor (b) The firm’s own website (c) LawyerChecker to check the details of each against each other and the firm’s letterhead.
“If we still have any doubts, we contact a firm local to the dubious firm and ask them whether they have dealings. We were less concerned where the dubious firm is acting for a buyer, rather than a seller but where it is acting for a seller, LawyerChecker is by far the most comforting and useful.”
Bearing the above instances in mind and the fact that the SRA issued thirteen fraud/scam alerts in July all conveyancing firms should be extra cautious about not only who they are dealing with but ensuring that their own identities are not stolen.
Being part of a group like Bold means firms can share warnings, problems and solutions quickly and safely.