By Tamara Wynn-Samra

What is Cybercrime?

You might have seen a number of articles in the news recently about people falling victim to cybercrime. Cybercrime is a type of fraud. Modern technology, including the use of emails means that cybercrime is on the increase and as a house purchase/sale often involves large sums of money, conveyancing transactions are very attractive to criminals.

As it becomes more common for bank account details and payment instructions to be given via email, criminals are attempting to infiltrate emails between clients and their legal advisers in order to divert funds and obtain either the proceeds of a sale or the funds for a purchase.

The criminals are known for producing extremely convincing emails which appear to be from one of the parties involved and are asking for payment to be made into a different bank account.

Who are the victims of cybercrime?

1. You: the client who loses their money

2. The solicitors who are questioned regarding their security measures

3. The bank who may share liability and reimburse the client.

4. The professional indemnity insurers who can be forced to pay out.

How would Robert Barber Solicitors try to minimise the risk of cybercrime to you as a client?

  • We advise you from the outset of the risks of cybercrime and hope that you are mindful of such activities.
  • We require you (and every client) to provide us with sufficient proof of identity.
  • We trace the source of deposit funds being given.
  • We are cautious of giving any sensitive information electronically.
  • We use Lawyer Checker to verify the account details of the solicitors acting on the other side of the transaction before sending any payment.
  • We would ask you to call us to check our account details before sending any payment.
  • We would call to confirm your bank details before sending any payment.
  • We have clear procedures and policies in place for dealing with the risk of fraud.
  • All of our staff are aware of the risks and are trained on the firm’s safeguards and policies to help protect you.
  • We never change our bank details during the course of a transaction with you.
  • Things to look out for / Warning signs as a client

    You are most at risk of fraud if the property is one or more of the following:

  • Vacant
  • Rented out
  • Free of mortgage
  • Not yet registered with the Land Registry
  • Please call us immediately if you receive any of the following:

  • An email which looks like it is from us but there is a slight change in the email address, i.e. an extra digit or letter.
  • Communication from us which looks different to what you have previously received i.e. the logo, the language, the header or the footer is different.
  • Communication from us to say that our bank details have changed from what has previously been given.
  • 6th September, 2018