This is a sobering tale on bank fraud.
A couple from Essex thought they were sending £120,000 to their solicitors Steed and Steed but, unfortunately for them, the funds in fact went to fraudsters with an account in the name Graceak Ltd.
How had this happened?
Quite simply the fraudsters had hacked the email account of the law firm, Steed and Steed, and sent the victims incorrect bank details.
I'm sure you are fully aware of this type of fraud but here are my takeways:
1. How is it possible that Lloyds paid such a huge sum of money intended for Steed and Steed to an account in the name of Graceak UK? Incredibly, its because of a little-known but significant flaw in the banking system – the name on a bank account does not have to match an online or Chaps payment request.
Say that again?
Over a year ago, the consumer body Which? lodged a “supercomplaint” with financial regulators demanding banks do more to protect customers tricked into transferring money. So far no concrete measures have emerged and consumers’ losses grow every week.
2. Quote from the victim:
"Action Fraud told me there was no guarantee that the police would even look at my case, and if they did it may take up to eight weeks to start their investigation."
This is not new but a recurring theme. If you are a victim of bank fraud, don't expect much public assistance.
You will pleased to hear however that you can get assistance from the private sector.
3. Solicitors Regulation Authority warned that email hacks of conveyancing transactions had become the most common cybercrime in the legal sector.
For lawyers : you need to routinely check your email security
For clients: make sure you ALWAYS CALL your solicitor / builder / etc before sending large six figure sums of money.
It is the worst case of email intercept fraud that Money has ever featured. An Essex couple have lost £120,000 after sending the money to what they thought was their solicitor’s bank account, but which instead went to an account in Kent that was systematically emptied of £20,000 in cash every day for the next six days.