Criminals mount email scams on property sales

propertyfraudBy hacking into emails, gangsters are gaining millions from disrupted property sales in Britain.

More than £10 million is estimated to have been lost to criminals who pose as buyers, sellers or lawyers.

The problem is escalating with about two successful frauds a week now, resulting in an average of £112,000 of stolen funds for each.

British police suspect organised crime gangs are behind the scam.

After hacking into emails between sellers and buyers and their solicitors and estate agents, the fraudsters send an email announcing that the bank account details have changed and providing a different account.

This ought to raise suspicions, but nevertheless nearly 100 people in the UK have reported falling victim to it.

Once the funds hit the changed account they are transferred electronically to bank accounts in various parts of the world, making them impossible to trace.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau recorded 91 conveyancing fraud crimes up to last October. In September and October alone, 16 cases were reported to Action Fraud – an average of two a week.

Police believe the fraudsters use malware that allows them to gain access to individuals’ computers and those of estate agents and law firms.

The malware can sift through data and find evidence of housing sales.

Fraudsters can also hack into weak Wi-Fi systems and people are warned not to use public Wi-Fis for financial transactions.

This crime is also known to take place in Portugal, at least in the case of holiday rentals.


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-2 #4 charly 2016-01-11 14:05
Dear mr Damien, moral honesty obliges me to respond as follows: 1. the figure (9 scams) had been published in last year's Algarvedailynews ; 2. financial scams have absolutely nothing to do with villa licensing AL and the fact to have or not a license will change nothing to that; 3. the fact of being licensed yes or no depends fully and only of the property owner !!!! With the actual very easy way to get a license + number via the Camara it takes max 30 minutes and no costs at all to get a license. Unfortunately 90% of the concerned owners don't want a license at all (they prefer to tell horrible and untrue stories about "complicated licensing procedures) ..... Funny thing !
-1 #3 Ed 2016-01-11 09:54
Quoting charly:
In the field of villa renting last year there were about ten criminal scams in Portugal compared to the 20.000 cases registered in Spain....

The true figure will be hundreds of cases. I expect many are not reported. When I got done I saw little point in reporting the crime. Actually, the money was diverted from the renter's payment so was down to him. He was idiotic to suddenly transfer money to a Russian in Madrid rather than a Brit in Portugal.
0 #2 Damien 2016-01-11 09:45
Only ten 'villa renting' scams in Portugal ? This is a Portuguese 'guesstimate' so well below the true figure. Ask at Faro PJ.

Our Algarve Portuguese rental licensed neighbour was had by someone who had rented out his property last year. So we tracked his case and discovered that the PJ themselves estimate 'many hundreds perhaps thousands' of holiday property owners were turned over each year across Portugal but few are unreported officially to the Police as the rentals were not licensed.

The sooner Portugal gets a grip on illegal letting by their public administration encouraging registration then this matter can begin to be dealt with. Such as cross referencing an online rental to a municipal tourism database of licensed property - before paying.
-4 #1 charly 2016-01-10 18:40
In the field of villa renting last year there were about ten criminal scams in Portugal compared to the 20.000 cases registered in Spain....

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