First Time Buyers Become Victims Of A Phishing Scam

First time buyers (FTBs) lost their money through what is known as an ‘phishing attack’ after fraudsters intercepted emails between them and their conveyancer. 

Two young FTBs have sadly lost £94,000 when funds were cruelly stolen from them by fraudsters which they thought had safely been transferred to their solicitors. 

Unfortunately, the whole chain collapsed as all the transactions were dependent on the FTBs funds arriving in their conveyancer’s bank account. 

One of the seller’s agents, Stuart Lesser, of Aldermartin Baines & Cuthbert in Middlesex, who were instructed by a seller in the chain, was informed that the FTBs couple had paid the money a week ago. 

With no exchange of contracts imminent, Lesser chased it up, only to be told there was a delay in the transaction. But after a few days had passed it was adamantly clear there was a serious issue. 

It transpired that the young FTBs had been subjected to fraudsters who intercepted emails between the FTBs and their conveyancer, impersonating the law firm’s business email to make it look genuine including bank account details – fooling the couple into thinking it was from their solicitors. 

Heartbreakingly, the couple never questioned it and continued to use the account details contained in the fraudulent email and transferred the money. They have now seemingly lost all their money and the police are investigating the fraud case. 

Stuart Lesser feels other agents should seriously be made aware of the fraud incident, highlighting the issue so they can warn buyers and sellers of the risks involved when transferring money to bank accounts. 

Lesser said:

“It was such an awful thing to happen. People in that chain and the agents concerned will all have lost something, but we’ll get over it. These young first-time buyers won’t.”

Phishing is seen as one of the biggest cyber security risks for an organisation and is ever-increasing. It continues to remain the most used tactic by cyber criminals to con people into divulging their personal information including bank details, which they can then use for fraudulent purposes. 

Research conducted by Sophos entitled: ‘The Impossible Puzzle of Cyber Security, showed that phishing is still the most common cyber attack, with 53% of UK respondents falling foul to them last year. 

This year, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has revealed they’ve stopped 140,000 phishing attacks and taken down 190,000 fraudulent websites, in its annual report. 

Preventing phishing attacks is possible, but requires cyber defences being toughened by introducing the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) protocol – along with creating a cyber culture, including staff training, will help your conveyancing firm become a cyber fortress. 

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