Fraudsters are increasingly trying to trick home buyers, sellers and solicitors, into transferring their money into scam accounts.

They hack into emails between buyers, solicitors and estate agents and create fake emails to try and persuade people to send money to accounts in the fraudster’s name.

To avoid being deceived by ‘redirection’ scams, be alert to the following:

  • Email addresses on correspondence may be similar to that of the genuine company but are in fact bogus
  • Fraudsters are known to telephone the company they are targeting to ask for contact names, so that the correct ones appear on any communication
  • Signatures and other information are obtained from public sources to add further credibility to the scam
  • Letters are likely to use the same logo, letterhead and style as the genuine company and look authentic.

What can I do to protect myself?

When you are involved in a purchase, follow these steps to help reduce your risk:

  • Agree a process for payment early on – e.g. all parties should agree that bank account details will only be changed if instructions are provided face-to-face, or by phone between known contacts.
  • Never confirm the authenticity of a request to change account details over email or using contact details provided in the email. The contact details could be fake too. Instead use known contact details and speak to existing contacts, to verify that the request is genuine.
  • Experts say that fake emails are often impossible to distinguish from the real thing, so don’t waste time trying – a phone call or face-to-face meeting is the only way to be sure.
  • Emails seem to be the preferred method of the fraudsters but be wary of phone calls from people claiming to work for or represent your solicitor’s office. Remember the fraudsters are likely to have read all your correspondence, so they may cite details about the sale that you may think are only known to you.
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and regularly install any system updates.

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