NatWest reminds conveyancing customers to check bank details following £600,000 fraud

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Many of you may have missed the latest conveyancing scam reported in The Telegraph this weekend, where it was reported that a victim was left feeling “utterly alone” following the theft of almost £600,000.

The victim, whose mortgage had yet to come through, said he felt under immense pressure to make the transfer. He borrowed from his company and made a bank transfer of over £590,000 to an Ulster Bank account, the Irish arm of Royal Bank of Scotland, on 18th January as per the instruction provided to him by what turned out to be fake solicitor’s instructions.

The fraud only came to light in early February when the victim found out the real solicitor had no knowledge of the transfer. The crime was reported immediately to NatWest, Ulster Bank and Action Fraud. The victim also tried to report the scam to various London police stations but was referred back to Action Fraud or told to call 101.

“No one seemed to have any record of my name, reference number and the case. And I’ve no idea what to do,” he said.

The Telegraph quotes NatWest as saying that it was “aware” of the case and was currently investigating. NatWest said they were “supporting” its customer in the recovery of his funds on a “best endeavours basis” and would “continue to support him through this undoubtedly distressing situation”.

NatWest want to remind customers to always confirm bank details with their solicitor in person or over the phone before sending any money.

Simon Parker, Head of Residential Property at Ashtons Legal and based in the firm’s Norwich Office advises “As this type of fraud is becoming ever more present and the sums involved are now substantial due to the current value of properties that are being bought and sold, we always make it clear to clients that any transfer of funds, however small, either to us or back to them will be made to bank details that are either supplied in writing or over the phone. We do not accept nor will we provide bank details by email, without separately verifying the details with our clients by another method, generally over the phone. This prevents the unfortunate loss of funds through a transfer to incorrect or a fraudster’s bank account.”

He adds “We also advise clients and third parties that we do not notify changes to important business information, such as bank account details, by email. Should any party have any doubt about the authenticity of a communication purportedly coming from Ashtons Legal, any of our partners or staff, the recipient should contact the solicitor or the person managing their matter by telephone, using any of the numbers available on our website.”


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