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The Danger of Fraudsters When Buying and Selling Property

With the rapid increase of bank transfer fraud taking place across the UK, the process of buying and selling a home is becoming ever more risky. Falling victim to fraud when buying or selling a home can put you in great financial danger, as well as causing the risk that you will no longer be able to move to a new home.

What is Bank Transfer Fraud?

This is where email correspondence is intercepted between yourself and your solicitor by a cyber-criminal. The fraudster will then contact you under the pseudonym of a member of staff at your solicitors firm (including adopting the same or a very similar email address), asking for the correct sum of money you have actually agreed upon. They may also falsely state that should you not send the funds, then the sale of your home or purchase of your new home will fall through.

This is where the scam becomes something so sophisticated that even the most clued-up person can fall victim to it – let alone someone going through the emotional process of buying and selling a home. The criminal will then provide you with their own bank details instead of those of your solicitor. Once you instruct your bank to make payment, you have authorised it and little can be done. These scammers often quickly withdraw the cash, so that by the time the scam has been flagged and investigated, it is too late to retrieve the funds.

In 2017, bank transfer fraud victims lost £236m in total, and banks were only able to pay back £60.8m of this. The scary thing about bank transfer fraud is that because you have authorised for the payment to be sent to the fraudster, you have absolutely no rights to be reimbursed once you have recognised you’ve been scammed. The banks are currently not entitled to do anything further than try to retrieve the funds from the recipient’s account.

A Real Life Nightmare

One of the worst cases of this type of fraud saw Essex couple lose a massive sum of £120,000 after transferring the money to what they thought was their solicitor’s bank account. The recipient then proceeded to withdraw this money in sums of £20,000 every day for six days. By the time the banks had recognised the fraud, the money was in cash and no longer possible to retrieve. The couple were left feeling failed by their bank as there was no way to reimburse them.

The fraudster had hacked into the email account system of the solicitor, retrieving all of the couples details including the exact amount of money agreed by both parties. This way they were easily able to intercept the correspondence without arousing suspicion.

New Legislation

However, banks being unable to help may be about to change as a consumer report from Which? calls for them to take better action on behalf of victims. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) have now been investigating how banks deal with this type of scam and plan to implement an early version of a code of conduct to provide new protection for victims this month.

The Financial Ombudsman service will also be able to take this code into account when investigating new claims about this type of scam. However, this code will not be brought into legislation retroactively, meaning the sufferers of the huge loss in just 2017 alone will never see the remainder of their funds returned to them.

Even with this code in place, you could still suffer the consequences of falling victim to a bank transfer scam, as banks will only uphold their end of the deal and reimburse you if you meet a certain criteria.

As we are genuine cash buyers at House Buyer Bureau, we would absolutely hate the thought of the money you receive directly into your bank from us in exchange for your home ending up in the hands of one of these cyber-criminals.

Several Ways to Avoid This Scam:

  • Keep in mind that just by knowing your name, address and security details does not make the person contacting you genuine.
  • Trusted organisations and banks won’t ever contact you by email asking for you to make a payment.
  • Trusted organisations and banks won’t ask for any of your security information by email.
  • Just because the email you have received has come from the same email domain as your solicitor, do not automatically assume the person contacting you is actually part of the organisation.
  • If you are asked to make payment via email, be sure to call or visit your solicitor in person to ask whether this was really them and ask them to confirm their bank details.
  • Check with the bank that when you are transferring the sum that the name of the account holder registered to the account number and sort-code details you have provided match the name of the payee you intend.
  • Don’t ever click on links in an unexpected email or text as they too could be a scam.
  • If you fear you may be a victim to this type of fraud, action it with your bank, the payee’s bank, the Financial Ombudsman and the police as quickly as possible. Explain the severity of the situation and ask for it to be actioned in a timely manner to avoid the suspect withdrawing your cash before it is too late.

House Buyer Bureau can quickly and simply purchase your home in as little as seven days. The cash will be deposited into your bank in a timescale to suit you, so you can still go ahead with the purchase of your next property while you deal with retrieving the funds lost to the scam.

Not only could you, yourself fall victim to this scam, but the buyer of your home is at risk of becoming a victim too, ultimately causing them to no longer be able to go through with the purchase. Should this happen to you, you don’t need any further delays in selling your home. At House Buyer Bureau, we can pay cash for your home in a timescale to suit you or as little as seven days. Get your free cash offer now.