£45,000 Deposit Lost To Email Impersonation Fraud Conveyancing Scam

Thousands have been stolen from a client due to a scam which hacked a law firm’s email system, and no refunds are being given.

In March, Nikhil Dudeja and his wife Richa were about to buy their dream home with a £45,000 deposit that they had been saving for. Whilst on holiday, Nikhil received an email from his solicitor asking for the money to be paid, which he then sent through his Lloyds banking app. However, this email was actually from a fraudster who had hacked into the solicitor’s email system, telling Nikhil where to send the money. The £45,000 deposit then went to a fraudulent HSBC business account in North London.

Lloyds have refused to refund the couple, as they say he didn’t take sufficient care when making the transfer. HSBC have also denied any liability. But Nikhil says that HSBC should have spotted that the account was fraudulent, as it was opened online with company details that the police said do not exist.

The estate agent dealing with the purchase has admitted they were hacked, yet Nikhil says that the companies involved are refusing to help him. Conveyancing scams like this one appear to be on the rise, as scammer’s techniques are becoming more sophisticated. A lack of cyber security could be a key reason a to why many firms are falling victim to these cyber attacks.

The couple are just the latest people to fall victim to a conveyancing attack. In April, Nicola McConnell, a retired educational psychologist, was scammed out of £613,000 after selling her five-bedroom home in London for £1.9m. In this case, the fraudsters deceived Woodford Solicitors by using a phoney email to trick them into sending the money from the proceeds of the client’s house sale, to their bank account. It seems that these attacks are on the rise.

Nikhil has said:

“This whole experience has been devastating. The email I received came from the exact same address as used by our solicitor. The bank details were provided on a solicitor’s company letterhead along with the signature of the solicitor dealing with our case. I was expecting to make the payment and just did so. It was the perfect scam.”

According to research carried out by The HomeOwners Alliance, last Friday 30th August was the most popular day to move house this year, and therefore a popular day for scammers to target conveyancers.

With thousands of pounds at stake, do conveyancers need to be more aware of the risks of cyber attacks?

 

2 Comments

  • test

    The headline reads “due to a scam which hacked a law firm’s email system”.

    It is my understanding that it was the estate agents whose email systems were compromised which allowed the fraudsters to gather enough information to create a believable email from the conveyancer.

    I am not aware of any fault on the part of law firm. Please change the headline to accurately reflect the story and prevent blame being apportioned to the entirely innocent law firm.

    • test

      It is never our intention to attribute blame unnecessarily – the headline has been amended to reflect the impersonation fraud.

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