Lawyer Checker allows Stephensons to save clients funds
Stephensons Solicitors have prevented a fraudster posing as a legitimately regulated conveyancer from conducting reserved conveyancing services.
Acting in what appeared to be a normal transaction the Stephensons fee earner ordered a Lawyer Checker search.
Lawyer Checker confirmed there was no track record of the sort code and account number that the fraudster provided having been used in the conveyancing market.
It was also revealed that the “other side” were not regulated and that there were a number of issues relating to the firm.This included the activity of similarly named individuals that had previously been struck off the roll.
The firm have now been reported to the SRA and CLC. Tom Bridge, partner, Stephensons solicitors said: “The Lawyer Checker search confirmed that we were dealing with someone pretending to be a properly regulated conveyancer.
“When we got the result back we were concerned that had we sent the purchase funds the other side they were clearly not regulated and we should not be relying on their undertaking for our borrower or lender client.
“We were lucky to spot this as the consequences of getting it wrong could have significantly damaged our firm.
“Lawyer Checker swiftly and at a very low cost identified considerable evidence that we would have taken a long time to find out about. This is the second time that Lawyer Checker has helped us avoid a very risky situation.”
The Solicitors Act 1980 amended by The Administration of Justice Act 1989 states that conveyancing is a reserved service and should only be conducted by solicitors or licensed conveyancers that are regulated.
Anyone holding themselves out as conducting transactions for others when they are not regulated is committing a crime.
Chris Harris said: “In this case Harvey Law of Luton appear to have been claiming it was legitimate for them to act in the sale of properties as a lawyer.
“The firm was using a client account with no track record of historic use, it has no website, it isn’t registered at the ICO or FSA, and it doesn’t appear on the registers for the CLC or SRA.
“Firms and individuals with very similar names have a history with the SDT of significant sanctions.
“Many firms would not have picked this up with their own processes but those using Lawyer Checker can mitigate against these types of issues.
“Unfortunately this was the second case that we saw last week with similar facts. Vendor conveyancing fraud is a growing issue and many firms still fail to appreciate how sophisticated the criminals are and how wide spread the issue is.”