First-time buyers lose money in fraudulent bank account
Although this is not the first of its kind to have happened, quite sadly, this fraudulent act may not also be the last as hackers who’ve grown sophisticated through the years can now get into an agent’s or anyone else’s email account and gather enough information to create a fictitious email trail that can appear to be very realistic.
Very recently, two young first-time buyers lost £94,000 when, according to investigators, hackers have intercepted email exchanges between the first-time buyers and their conveyancer. Forging the law firm’s business email and making it look authentic, the fraudsters then send the bank details where the buyers should be forwarding their payment. Unaware of what’s happening, the buyers would have already lost their money to the scammers with little or no chance of getting it back.
Stuart Lesser, an agent of Aldermartin Baines & Cuthbert in Edgware, Middlesex representing a seller further up the chain was informed that the buyers have already paid the week prior, but curiously there was no exchange of contracts. Following it up last Friday, he was informed of some delay. This Monday, the problem has become apparent.
Lesser said that “It was such an awful thing to happen. People in that chain and the agents concerned will all have lost something, but we’ll get over it. These young first-time buyers won’t.”
While banks have new policies on compensating losses, they usually do not refund money lost in cases of fraud.
According to him, agents should be informed of the occurrence of fraud and warn buyers and sellers to check the details first by calling or any means necessary and verifying before any money is sent. People are also being warned not to put bank details in emails.