Conveyancing fraud and payment diversion fraud
This joint guidance from the National Crime Agency, Action Fraud, the National Economic Crime Centre and the Law Society explains how you can protect yourself from fraud.
Criminals are actively targeting property purchases, with the aim of tricking you into transferring your house deposit and/or the balance of purchase monies to them.
These schemes can be highly sophisticated, and almost always involve the criminals pretending to be your lawyer in order to con you into sending your payment to an account they control.
Be extremely vigilant if there appears to be any change of payment details.
Always double check by calling your lawyer before you transfer your money, as emails can be intercepted or diverted.
You can test the account by sending a small sum to the account details provided and check that your lawyer has received this before transferring all of the money.
Payment diversion fraud
Payment diversion fraud is where criminals target a specific individual, impersonate others, create or amend invoices and divert payments to criminal-controlled bank accounts.
It affects everyone, though small and medium-sized businesses are particularly vulnerable.
Make sure team members in finance, payroll and other departments that make payments are aware of the risk.
When year-end approaches, increased payments and workload make businesses more vulnerable.
Business email compromise
Business email compromise is a form of phishing attack where a criminal attempts to trick a senior executive (or budget holder) into transferring funds, or revealing sensitive information.
The criminals behind business email compromise send convincing-looking emails that might request unusual payments or contain links to 'dodgy' websites.
Some emails may contain viruses disguised as harmless attachments, which are activated when opened.
Unlike standard phishing emails that are sent out indiscriminately to millions of people, these attacks are crafted to appeal to specific individuals, and can be even harder to detect.
Business email compromise is a threat to all organisations of all sizes and across all sectors, including non-profit organisations and government.
If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud
Contact your bank to advise them of the fraudulent activity, asking them to contact the receiving bank to freeze the funds.
Report suspected fraud to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Alert your lawyer: it may be that they are being targeted by criminals, who may pose a risk to other clients.