Published on 08/01/2016
The extent of frauds where property buyers are duped into transferring money to criminals has been exposed by the Safe Buyer Scheme, for the first time, following their request to the City of London Police, to provide accurate data, collated across England and Wales, to reveal the extent of this specific type of fraud. The report shows a dramatic escalation since the first case recorded that can be identified as affecting the conveyance market in July 2013. These figures show that the period between July 2013 and July 2014 saw an average of 1 case reported every 2 months, however in September 2015 (the last month in the latest data set) there were 9 reported cases, representing an 1800% increase. The average loss from buyer deposit redirection fraud is £112,310 and the total losses add up to £10,220,275 from 91 reported cases.
DCI Jason Tunn, Head of the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit announced "The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) welcomes private industry highlighting crime figures that specifically affect the mortgage and conveyancing market place, which have been contained within ‘mandate fraud’ figures until now. These figures demonstrate a rising crime trend that all stake holders should be made aware of and will assist the public with realising that they may be duped into sending their hard saved money for property deposits to criminals rather than the solicitors. Developing strategies and products with industry stakeholders to prevent these crimes occurring is the way forward, and the MPS Falcon teams are responding to these threats in order to prevent and detect offences"
Ed Powell, from BE Consultancy, the creators of the Safe Buyer Scheme, commented “The Safe Buyer product protects buyers from transferring their purchase deposit money to criminals, a growing problem highlighted in recent high profile cases involving some very well respected and specialist conveyancing firms and validated by the City of London Police crime figures. With 9 cases in September 2015 at an average loss of £112,000 this problem is causing significant harm to lender’s and conveyancer’s customers and is a major threat to every conveyancing businesses.”