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How London Homebuyers can avoid getting scammed by fraudsters.

In this two-minute read,
we look at the increasingly sophisticated scam that fraudsters are using to
separate homebuyers from their hard-earned cash.

Even though we’re in lockdown, criminals are still
out there trying to swindle people, so if you plan to buy a new home in London in
2021, please heed UK Finance’s latest warning about an email scam that is on
the rise.

Here’s how it works. Fraudsters hack into the system
of a conveyancing firm and monitor their emails. When a deal nears completion,
they send the buyer an email that looks like it has come from the conveyancing
solicitor. There has been an administrative error, it says, and the bank
account details for the transaction have changed.

The buyer, anxious to secure their dream home (and,
in the current climate, take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday), follows the
instructions and sends the funds – to a fraudster.

UK Finance, which promotes secure financial
transactions, says this type of crime is on the rise with £16.2 million lost in
the first half of 2020. While it’s not the largest type of scam in the UK, it
is particularly ruthless as large sums of money are involved; one poor soul
lost £300,000.

Tips to avoid being scammed

- Don’t assume that fraudsters write or speak in a
certain way – their emails can be polite and polished and feature logos and
letterheads that are perfect copies of the real thing.

- If you have even a quiver of doubt, step back from
the situation and take a breath. Buying a home can be a fraught process and
it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.

- Never send money without verifying the
authenticity of the account information – call, or even better, visit your
solicitor’s office to confirm the details. (Note: Don’t call the number listed
on the invoice that has raised your suspicion, this could be a fake.)

- Work with people you trust. Go with conveyancing
solicitors and estate agents with longstanding reputations.

Fraud red flags for homebuyers

- Emails that notify you of a change of bank

- Duplicate invoices, one will be real, one will be

- Pressure to act ASAP. Fraudsters often strike on a
Friday afternoon. They’re hoping you won’t realise your mistake until after the
weekend (and they’ve had time to move the money on).

- A change – no matter how minor – to an email
address. Often the fraudulent email will come from an address that is similar
to the legitimate one.

Here at Holland Properties,  we’re here to support you
through the homebuying process. We’re happy to provide expert advice and share
our years of knowledge and experience.