Rise in number of scams targeting homeowners, solicitors and charities

Dangerous scams are growing increasingly common across the UK – many of which can often result in significant financial losses.

In recent weeks, news has emerged of increases in the number of scams targeting the likes of homeowners, solicitors and charities.

According to reports, HM Land Registry has been issuing important reminders to solicitors and conveyancers stressing the importance of being on the lookout for so-called ‘property fraud’ – which is growing increasingly common across the UK.

The Land Registry has been sending out leaflets to law firms in a bid to raise awareness of the issue – with instructions to distribute such information to property clients.

A leaflet recently sent out to such firms, reads: “Fraudsters can and do target properties for fraud. By pretending to be you they can try to sell or mortgage your property, leaving you to deal with the consequences. Fraud of all kinds is on the increase, so it’s important you do what you can to protect yourself.”

The Land Registry warns that homeowners are likely to be more at risk if their property is rented out, empty, mortgage-free or not registered with HM Land Registry.

It adds that, if properties are targeted by fraud and encounter related financial losses, owners can only be compensated if the property is correctly registered with HM Land Registry.

Meanwhile, solicitors and conveyancers are warned to report any ‘suspicious’ property transactions they are asked to carry out as soon as possible by contacting HM Land Registry’s property fraud line on 0300 006 7030.

The warnings, which are being issued as part of Scams Awareness Month this July, come shortly after separate research revealed a rise in so-called ‘conveyancing fraud’.

This kind of fraud typically sees cyber-criminals commandeer communications between conveyancers, homebuyers and estate agents by hacking into email exchanges and posing as solicitors.

In these instances, police crime watchdog Action Fraud reports that hackers are attempting to re-direct conveyancing fees and deposit funds into their own bank accounts, by informing homebuyers of a bogus ‘last minute change’ to the conveyancer’s bank account details.   

Furthermore, reports have emerged in recent weeks suggesting that an increasing number of UK charities could also be at risk of being targeted by scammers.

Reports suggest that less than one per cent of UK charities are properly protected against common forms of cybercrime, such as fraudulent emails and phishing attacks.

This means that such charities are potentially leaving themselves, their donors and other stakeholders at risk.

Charities are advised to implement email authentication protocols to protect their organisations with Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) – which helps to ensure that only trustworthy sources can send emails to them on behalf of a business or company.