Legal Community blamed for Property Fraud


A recent story in the press has highlighted the plight of sellers and purchasers who have fallen victim to a fraud commonly knows as “Friday Afternoon Fraud”. 
Criminals intercept emails containing bank details which have been sent between legal firms and their clients and change the bank details so large sums of money are diverted. The recipient is unaware of any tampering with the correspondence. Transactions taking place towards the end of the working week are being targeted as the chance of detection is limited and the ability to follow it up immediately is delayed.

The legal community is being blamed for doing little to protect sellers and purchasers. Here at Pinney Talfourd this is most definitely not the case. Where possible we require details by letter or, if absolutely necessary, by telephone. The firm has a strict policy against sending the firm’s bank details by email. If a client sends their bank details electronically, staff must telephone to confirm the details before arranging for any funds to be transferred. The benefits of using a local firm to you mean that it is easier to hand deliver written instructions, you will have met with your solicitor face-to-face and spoken several times over the telephone, in short – you will know who you’re dealing with. The chances for fraud are substantially reduced. Our policy on sending bank details by email may be met with puzzlement at first but when the reason is explained the majority of clients are happy to resort to the old fashioned forms of communication to protect their finances.

In a world where clients and organisations require faster and more responsive communication, there seems little option but to utilise email to its fullest. It goes without saying that it’s a cheaper alternative to the postal service. Vigilance against property fraud and cyber crime is down to each of us. See below for some pointers to help in this ongoing battle.

▼ Tips on how to avoid property fraud and email hacking

More information

If you are buying a residential property, whether it is a primary or second home, contact our Residential Property Department for further information on our services. Contact 01708 229444 or to speak to a member of the team at any of our offices in Brentwood, Hornchurch and Upminster. We are also able to see clients in Leigh on Sea.

This article was written by Lexie Jacobs, Chartered Legal Executive in our Residential Property Department at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at May 2016.


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