Law Society Supports Its Members On Property Fraud

Due to a potential property fraud crisis in the UK, this month The Law Society has provided up to date advice and practice notes to its members on this ever-increasing issue.

Property fraud is on the rise as research has found that the UK Land Registry received twice as many property fraud claims that they are able to prevent.

Property fraud is a serious ongoing issue in the UK, with millions lost each year. ABC Finance has looked at a freedom of information request into the UK Land Registry and has found that the UK could be in a property fraud crisis.

The research revealed that the average property scam pay-out stands at £107,669, compared to the average online scam which only sets people back £600 as scammers target vulnerable properties and uniformed people looking to buy or rent.

Conveyancers need to be alert to the possibility of property fraud, the warning signs could be that the only contact details a party provides are their telephone number or email address; you are instructed by one party but you only communicate with the other by post, telephone, and email; your client relies on utility bills as the only indication that they actually reside at the property; the seller does not live at the property.

Further warning signs that should raise alarm bells are that information given by your client is different to information on the electoral register, plus if any changes are made during the process to your client’s details or the bank account where funds are being paid into

With property fraud rife and fraud methods changing all the time, anything suspicious and unusual needs to be addressed and steps should be followed to help tackle the problem.

Identity theft and impersonation are one of the biggest threats to a firm whereby criminals may impersonate anyone involved in a conveyancing transaction which includes owners, buyers, borrowers, lenders or conveyancers.

Email impersonation fraud has become one of law firm’s biggest threat with a plethora of email scams using legitimate law firm details increasing in recent months.

Email fraud, in general, continues to be the most frequently used by attackers which is why it is perceived as the most dangerous threat. This month alone, the solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reported on three separate and sophisticated fraudulent emails using the details of SRA regulated firms and solicitors.

The Law Society supports its members and helps them navigate business challenges and the changing legal and regulatory landscape by providing up to date advice and practice notes on various issues. Read The Law Society’s guidance on property fraud on what to look for and steps to help tackle the issues here.

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