"Actually, we can no longer afford the house, but please can we make an offer for the shed." 

A homebuyer was conned into paying over £640,000 to criminals pretending to be the conveyancing solicitor. 

Fraudsters hacked into emails between the homebuyer and their solicitor, enabling them to access all of the information regarding the house purchase.

The con-artists then created a spoof email account, pretending to be the solicitor, and sent the homebuyer an invoice on a mocked-up version of the firm's headed paper, requesting payment for the purchase. The fraudsters requested the exact sum that the housebuyer was expecting to pay, and the victim transferred the money.

Later, the homebuyer was informed by their solicitor that no such request for payment had been made, in correspondence that must have caused the homebuyer's sphincter to tighten like a wing-nut.

The fraud was revealed by the Law Society in a campaign against payment diversion fraud. It said that the majority of the £640k was never recovered, and so the victim's equity and savings were wiped out and, of course, the house purchase was scuppered.

"These frauds can involve huge sums of money and have a devastating lifelong impact on the homebuyer and their personal finances," Stephanie Boyce, the president of the Law Society, told RollOnFriday. "Solicitors and their clients can all play a part in making such crimes more difficult for the criminals."

The Law Society's advice concerning payment diversion fraud, can be seen here. 

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 29 October 21 09:43

Damn. If the security breach was on the solicitors' side then it should be insured, though.

Anonymous 29 October 21 10:17

The breach was probably on the law firm's side as their network was compromised and the miscreant gained access to someone's mailbox. No wonder the firm in question is blaming everyone else as it's a bad IT security breach. 

Me 29 October 21 10:24

NEVER transfer money without phoning to double check the bank details, whether it’s for a £20 payment or a £200,000 payment.  Feels like a hassle to do it when you have the bank details but that 5 minute phone call is worth it! 

Lord Lester 29 October 21 10:29

In the future we will solve this issue with blockchain based authentication, whereby 'smart contracts' will ensure that funds cannot be sent until the instructed solicitor has indicated that they are ready to receive them. One can only hope that sad cases such as these expedite the adoption of the necessary technology.



Also, I was cleared of all wrongdoing by the BSB.

Gobblepig 29 October 21 12:59

I wonder why the victim was not eligible for compensation under the banks' voluntary APP scam code. 

Anonymous 29 October 21 13:02

I like it how my earlier comment is being down voted. Law firms IT Depts aren't the best. All too easy to blame the client.

Anonymous 29 October 21 13:22

Last time I bought a place I walked into the solicitors that morning to meet my lawyer and wrote down the bank details. Then I walked to the bank to sit down and get the bank transfer sorted.


Made me feel like the 1980s but at least I slept well that night knowing thr fraudsters hadn't intervened.


Well, the estate agents got their cut, but overall the transaction wasn't overly fraudulent!

Lord Lester 30 October 21 13:25

It has just pointed out to me that I was not cleared by the BSB - only given clearance to practise. The findings of the House of Lords - that I engaged in harassment and abuse of position - remain. 

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