The National Crime Agency (NCA) is encouraging Scottish solicitors involved in property conveyancing to make their clients aware of the risks of payment diversion fraud.
Payment diversion fraud is a highly sophisticated type of scam – in the case of conveyancing, criminals generally pose as a property buyer’s solicitor to trick them into transferring a deposit or balance of purchase.
The NCA has produced a short leaflet for people who are intending to purchase property in Scotland, explaining the risks of payment diversion fraud and the steps that buyers can take to avoid becoming a victim.
In extreme cases would-be-purchasers have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds to the criminals who have targeted them, often with no recourse to recover their money.
Among the advice provided in the leaflet is for property purchasers to avoid relying entirely on email to communicate with their solicitor, and to transfer a small sum first and check that funds have arrived directly with their solicitor before sending any larger sums.
The Law Society of Scotland encourages its members to take all possible steps to safeguard their clients from fraud.