"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.