The news of a young woman being duped into handing over £1.35 million to a person purporting to be the legal owner of the property was reported in the Daily Mail last week. It serves as another stark reminder of the risk of fraud in the conveyancing sector.
Maud Rousseau, group marketing and communications director of SearchFlow, conveyancing search provider, looks at why the industry needs to hand over the baton when checking the identity of their clients to electronic data specialists.
Money laundering schemes are continually adapting with more sophisticated means to scam the profession. This latest case reported in the national press involved a fraudster taking out a rental agreement on the property before the property was placed on the market and the other who stole the identity of the real owner.
Between them they were able to fool the letting agent, the selling agent and both the seller and buying conveyancers.
With more and more of these shocking cases of fraud hitting the national press, conveyancers, brokers, estate agents and lenders are acutely aware of the problem. So, it is startling that many in these professions are still not carrying out electronic checks on identification.
If the estate agent and conveyancer of the purported seller had issued electronic identity checks, the fraudsters’ scam could have been foiled.
The standard identity checks that have been deployed for so many years are not sufficient in these times. Training your staff, remaining extra vigilant, scrutinising the documents carefully, seeking additional references, reacting to high alert factors and double-checking with senior colleagues will not keep you and your clients safe anymore.
The detection of fraud can’t be based on instinct or left to luck. Conveyancers are leaving themselves open to criminal activity, which can seriously impact their careers and reputations.
There have been numerous initiatives to combat the growing problem, such as Land Registry’s Property Alert, the free service which gives an early warning of suspicious activity on a property.
However, this is a big international problem and the technological advancement and sophisticated means of fraud requires global leaders in identity data to step in and provide the conveyancing industry with the much needed additional protection.
Partnering with GB Group, the global leaders in identity data, our fully integrated and detailed AML report gives extensive and instant results.
It will save you time checking and double checking documents, allowing you to proceed with your job knowing that this very concerning area of risk has been dealt with.
Identity data specialists utilise the most comprehensive suite of data sets, which are updated daily and sourced from over 240 countries. It is then analysed and presented using a risk-based approach, flagging data mismatches and offers a full five year electronic audit trail.
The AML report is a low cost report which offers vital protection, reassurance and time saving.
The old method of identity checks; scanning a passport, birth certificate or utility bill, however carefully, does not suffice anymore.
All professions within the housing market need to now accept the requirement for the experts of identity data intelligence to protect them and their clients from the risks of identity theft.