£340,000 Cyber Property Fraud: conveyancing solicitors hacked

Posted: 24/6/2016

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This isn't a new story but thought it is worth sharing. It happened last year: a couple in London sold a flat for £340,000. Two days before the set completion date, the vendors' solicitor emailed requesting his bank account details for the sale proceeds to be paid into. The vendors duly replied, sending their Barclays bank account number and sort code.

The email was intercepted by cyber criminals, using extremely sophisticated technology that examines millions of emails to identify patterns of data that could contain valuable information. Posing as the vendor, the cyber criminal emailed the solicitor again – from the same email account – and told the firm to disregard the previous details and send the money to the fraudulent account instead. 

The solicitor sent the funds intended for the vendors, worth just over £333,000 after fees and charges, to the fraudulent bank account. A few days later, the vendors called the solicitors to chase the payment and the crime was discovered. Both parties contacted Barclays and the police.

It's a reminder that email, whilst highly convenient, is not 100% secure.

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