A new online service claims to protect agents and others working in the industry from the threat of cybercrime.
The service, called Safe Move Scheme, calims to give vendors, agents and conveyancers protection by encouraging them to join the scheme and having their identity independently verified.
At this stage only authenticated bank accounts are added to the scheme’s database.
When logging into the scheme, agents or buyers have to confirm the legitimacy of the bank details they have been given before they transfer money to a conveyancer; it allows the exchange of messages and electronic files securely without using email, which is regarded as a weak link in terms of security.
The scheme’s launch press release cites one scame where criminals apparently hacked into a national estate agency’s email system and were able to clone a buyer’s email address, then divert money being transferred between the solicitor and vendor. In another recent incident, cyber criminals cloned a buyer’s solicitor’s website and email account, receiving £77,000 transferred by the buyer.
A spokesman for the scheme says: “It is clear that emails are not safe, as in one scam the hackers accessed the estate agent’s email system - not the conveyancer’s.”