Conveyancing scams are currently one of the biggest threats to the legal sector, costing both consumers and law firms tens, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the case. Although these scams are highly diverse in nature, one of the major scams currently being carried out across the world involves stealing the information of lawyers, after which hackers pose as these figures to manipulate consumers into sending them money. With the sophistication of these ploys increasing over time, in this blog the team at Goodman Group demonstrates how these scams work and how to best avoid them.
Conveyancing scams in Australia
Although occurring all over the world, such as a recent incident in the UK where a man lost 67,000 pounds to a conveyancing scam, these email scams are not an uncommon phenomenon in Australia. They are also found all over the country, where several states have documented cases of vulnerable parties being robbed of huge sums of money.
One instance in South Australia resulted in two property buyers being defrauded out of $900,000, a father and son in Western Australia almost losing $200,000, and an elderly woman in Western Australia losing more than $500,00 as a result of fraudulent emails. These should indicate the huge sums that can be lost through the very simple manipulation of avenues of communication.
The problem has gotten so severe in Australia that the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner released a statement describing the current situation, stating that the two solicitors from two different law firms fell victim to compromised emails through the possible use of malware infected email originating from a legitimate source.
How to avoid conveyance scams
There are so frequently victims in these scams due to the relative sophistication of email scams. It’s difficult for many victims to tell whether they have been sent a scam email due to them originally dealing with a legitimate business or individual. If correspondence occurs with a real conveyancer, for the client, there should be no real reason to doubt that they have stopped dealing with their legitimate solicitor and are instead talking to a third party with questionable intentions.
This occurs by the third party being able to send correspondence that appears completely authentic, complete with the logo of the law practice. This is achieved by the illegitimate third-party hacking into the services of these firms, after which they are able to retrieve any relevant details (such as payment details, as well as names and relevant dates). The third parties can then use these details to send a follow up email after a legitimate email requesting payment, presenting an entirely new bank account which they ask clients to instead transfer their money into.
If a follow-up email with alternate bank details arrives, it never hurts to question the intention of the email. In this instance we recommend that you call our office to confirm bank details. This confirmation should offer you the peace of mind that any funds will be received by the intended recipient.
Learn more about conveyance scams today
The team at Goodman Group Lawyers have positioned ourselves as leaders in our field, and wanted to make sure that our clients received fair warning of industry-changing information such as this. If you have any questions related to conveyance scams, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, and if you receive an email that any suspicious signs, contact us immediately. It’s important to remain vigilant, so always make sure to be safe rather than sorry.