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By John Dobson

CEO, SmartSearch


AML checks for estate agents who don’t have time for compliance

The last few months have been tough for the property sector, and the pressure will continue as estate agents across the country work tirelessly day and night to get things back on track in a new socially distanced world.

So, it is quite likely that with so many new concerns to worry about, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance slips down the priority list for many.

Even before the disruption Covid-19 has brought, for many estate agents, AML was not a priority.


Research carried out before the pandemic found that almost nine in 10 trust their instincts alone as a reliable way to detect money laundering, and four in 10 would not run an AML check on a customer if speed was essential to the sale, or they knew the buyer.

So now, there is a real concern that those who didn’t have proper AML procedures in place are even less likely to make compliance a priority when they have the survival of their business to worry about, while those who were meeting their obligations before may now struggle to keep on top of it while they have so much on their plates.

Sadly, while Covid-19 may have disrupted many businesses, it hasn’t stopped financial crime, and there are fears that money launderers will take advantage of the fact that many regulated businesses will be so consumed with getting things back to normal that they will take their eye off the ball in terms of their compliance.

It is estimated that across the UK around £4.4 billion worth of property has already been bought with ‘suspicious wealth’ and around 90,000 properties have been purchased by companies based in secret jurisdictions, such as the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

This has caused the UK government to single out estate agents as the ‘weak link’ in the UK’s anti-money laundering defences, and it could be set to become an even bigger issue. So while AML may not be top of the list right now, as the first line of defence against money laundering, it has never been more important for estate agents to take their obligations seriously.

But don’t worry - it doesn’t have to be an onerous task that costs a fortune and takes your valuable time away from your business. You don’t have to spend hours manually checking documents and lists and worrying if the ID you have is even genuine. Not if you switch to electronic verification.

An electronic AML platform can take all that stress and worry away, enabling you to run robust and reliable AML checks in a matter of seconds. And now, thanks to TripleCheck from SmartSearch, electronic verification has never been quicker, easier, or more reliable.

TripleCheck is our most innovative AML solution yet, and it does exactly what it says on the tin; compliance checks on three levels for the most reliable result possible. TripleCheck combines our award-winning AML checks, with the latest facial recognition techniques and digital fraud checks to create a robust and reliable three-level AML Digital Identity solution that can replace your entire AML programme.

TripleCheck enables you to meet all your AML requirements quickly, easily, and effectively and automatically records all checks to ensure you have all the evidence you need to prove you have the right processes in place. It can be used anytime, anywhere – from your desktop, phone or tablet – with results delivered in seconds, making AML compliance a piece of cake, and enabling you to concentrate getting your business back on track.

Level 1: AML verification, Sanction and PEP screening

The first level of TripleCheck is our award-winning AML solution. We use dual bureau credit reference data (Experian and Equifax) and more than 1,100 global watchlists to perform a full AML check with Sanction and PEP screening. Our advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) automatically triggers enhanced due diligence on any matches giving you the result in less than two seconds.

Every check produces an AML certificate, which not only gives all the information you need about the individual but also forms part of your audit trail, providing the evidence you need to prove the check has been performed. Every check is documented in the system and is screened every night by our ongoing monitoring service which will alert you of anything you need to be aware of.

Level 2: Facial Recognition (Document Capture and Liveness Appraisal)

The second level of TripleCheck combines OCR (Optical Character Recognition) document data capture and the latest facial recognition techniques to provide you with a true picture of your customer.

TripleCheck performs an algorithmic check on photo identity documents to confirm the individuals’ authenticity and then uses biometric and liveness detection to compare the ‘real person’ with the document provided. This is not only one of the most reliable methods of verification but is also hugely practical while social distancing is still in place.

Level 3: Digital Fraud Checks (Data Referencing and Triangulation)

The third level of TripleCheck uses information such as telephone numbers, email addresses and IP addresses to deliver a risk score. SmartSearch then provides all the information you need to investigate further if a high risk has been identified.

The final part of the TripleCheck technology is the triangulation of these three elements – AML checks, facial recognition, and fraud checks – to create a Composite Digital Identity (CDI). This tells you everything you could ever need to know about your client and ensures you are fully compliant and are meeting all your AML obligations.

While the technology behind the TripleCheck solution is highly advanced, running a TripleCheck couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is type in the details - or take a photo with your phone or tablet – and the results are displayed on SmartSearch’s intuitive dashboard. This means staff at any level can successfully perform a TripleCheck quickly and easily.

TripleCheck enables you to conduct both individual and business searches – including Ultimate Beneficial Owner checks - for the UK and international markets, with automatic worldwide sanction and PEP (politically exposed person) screening and ongoing monitoring.

If you are switching from another provider, have been using manual checks up until now, or perhaps have not been keeping your AML procedures up to date, SmartSearch can batch upload your existing customer records and run retrospective checks on clients to ensure you have a complete compliance record.

Fnd out how this unique compliance technology could transform your business, saving you time, money, and most importantly, ensuring you remain compliant, here.

*John Dobson is CEO of SmartSearch



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