1st February 2018

Why should you be careful if you are moving house?

There have been many warnings not to give away too much information on social media websites, such as Facebook or Twitter as fraudsters are combing them for details.

Property sales are targets for scammers and a type of fraud now known as ‘Friday afternoon frauds’ have become big business for them.  This involves fake emails asking for a deposit and other money to be transferred to the criminal’s account.  Fraudsters have intercepted email exchanges between solicitor and client, then just before completion, they take over the correspondence and ask the client to transfer money to a different account.

The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) have £1 million allocated to replace stolen housing deposits.  It granted around £10.3 million from the fund for the year ending October 2016.   Figures from the Land Registry show that the value of property fraud has tripled since 2013, hitting £24,9 million in the year to April 2017.

Other frauds have involved criminals setting up fictitious law firms and cloning sites of reputable firms.  Also ‘property hijacking’ – where fraudsters pose as legitimate owners of a property to sell it on without the real owner’s knowledge.

Moving house is very exciting and it is tempting to broadcast it.  However, we recommend you don’t ever post on social media if you are moving house, as this can alert criminals.  Other safeguards to take are making sure your security software is up to date on your computers, smartphones or tablets.  When you are transferring large sums of money, such as a deposit, call your solicitor first to double check the bank details.

Other steps you can take are to ensure you have a good working and trusting relationship with your conveyancer.  At Macdonald Oates we hold a Conveyancing Quality accreditation from the Law Society and have strict policies and procedures in place, to protect ourselves and our clients from the possibility of conveyancing fraud.

If you wish to speak to anyone about your own move, please contact our teams at our Petersfield (01730 268211) and Midhurst (01730 816711) offices.