Are You Prepared For The Busiest Conveyancing Scam Day?

The month of August is expected to be an even busier time for conveyancers as Friday 30th August is set to be the most popular day to move house this year, according to research carried out by The HomeOwners Alliance using data from Reallymoving.com.

With 625,000 Brits moving in England in 2016-2017, which equates to approximately 1,700 moves per day, statistics have revealed more than 6,500 moves are expected on the 30th August 2019 – which is almost four times more than average. When analysing the most popular month and days people move house, 75,000 will relocate through the month of August, while 175,000 homeowners will move on Fridays over the course of the year.

In general, 28% of the UK population move on Fridays which allows home owners time to unpack and settle into their new abodes before starting work again on the Monday.

However, Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of The Homeowners Alliance is warning people to be extra vigilant and to be well organised if they choose to move on a Friday, especially Friday 30th August when there is expected to be a surge in moves. She said:

“Many homeowners like to move during the school summer holidays so their children can settle down in time for the new academic year, the start of September across most of the UK.

“It may appear sensible to move on a Friday, so you have time to unpack and settle in over the weekend before heading back to work, but we advise people to be exceptionally careful if they move on a Friday. On this particular Friday, 30th August, with even more moves expected to be happening than usual, it’s paramount that people are as organised as possible.

“Of course delays can occur at any time, but issues with transfers of funds are more likely to happen on a Friday when banks, conveyancers and removal firms are stretched to the limit as it’s the time when most housing deals tend to complete. On the last Friday of the month bank money transfers can get overloaded and it’s peak time for conveyancing fraud. If there are delays in transferring funds, you may have to spend the weekend in a hotel or on friends’ and families’ sofa.”

Rob Houghton, CEO of reallymoving, further comments on the difficulties of moving house in a busy period. He said:

“Moving on the busiest day of the year isn’t for the faint-hearted, especially with the August bank holiday also happening that week, pushing more moves onto the remaining four days. Ensure your solicitor and everyone in the chain knows you’re working towards that date and book your removals firm well in advance, so you only need to confirm as soon as you exchange. It’s best to ask them to come to your house to assess the volume of your belongings. This ensures you have the right sized van and number of team members on the day of your move.”

According to The HomeOwners Alliance study, it found that 115,000 moves are delayed every year. The reasoning behind the delays is caused by problems with funds being cleared, or sellers vacating their property later than they should be. Due to the hold-ups 25% of homeowners end up paying £500 or more and one in seven are having to pay in excess of £1,000 in charges because they have cancelled the removal van or have been forced to stay in a hotel.

With conveyancing scams already rife in the industry, this month presents an even greater opportunity for cyber criminals to steal money from unsuspecting clients. The conveyancing sector needs to be extra alert of preying fraudsters when transferring house purchase money.

Conveyancers and clients are slowly wising up to fraud and cyber criminals are forced to use other methods to intercept money transfers. But the ever-increasing sophistication of fraudsters has meant that law firms and clients have continuously been ‘sitting ducks’ when it came to fraud.

Conveyancing scams, which are a type of email modification fraud, are widespread due to the significant amount of money passing between a law firm and its client. Criminals intervene and falsify emails between clients and law firms, resulting in bank details being changed and money being transferred to hackers instead.

These types are scams are also known as ‘Friday afternoon Fraud’ or even ‘Monday morning Fraud’ where con men will target first thing Monday morning due to staff just starting their working week and perhaps not fully concentrating – or just before the weekend to avoid detection and businesses are closed for the weekend and won’t be noticed until a few days later.

With the bank holiday coming up this month followed quickly by the most popular day to move house in 2019, cyber criminals will be rubbing their hands together and preparing for the onslaught of pilfering client’s money during the influx of housing transactions.

As a conveyancer, are you seeing a surge in housing transactions this month? Will 30th August be your busiest day? Are you and your firm prepared for potential conveyancing scams?

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