Three, local property buyers have been fleeced of up to $1.3 million as scammers hit Adelaide conveyancers.

This has prompted the conveyancing sector to reflect on new cybercrime risks and, in response, Eckermann Conveyancers has introduced more anti-cybercrime measures to keep ahead of the threats.

As a client of Eckermann Conveyancing, you will find our new processes will give you even more peace of mind as you entrust your settlement or other conveyancing matters with us.

How the scammers hit Adelaide conveyancers

A terrific summary of the scam in SA Real Estate News, Scammers posing as conveyancers steal $900,000 from SA property buyers, has outlined the way the criminals struck.

In essence, the criminals intercepted emails containing banking instructions sent from conveyancers to their clients, and they changed the banking details so that money got sent to the scammers instead of into the conveyancers’ trust accounts.

Since that article was published, three clients have now been affected with three South Australian conveyancers being drawn into the fraud.

What the Australian Institute of Conveyancers SA recommends

CEO of the Institute, Rebecca Hayes, has issued a bulletin, requesting conveyancers to urge clients to adopt stricter measures, including:

  • Not sending trust account details and requests for moneys in the body of an email
  • Advising clients that trust details will not be requested by email (and why)
  • Advising client’s to contact their conveyancer immediately, should they receive a request for monies via email
  • Advising clients verbally or in writing (hard copy) of trust account details – they are recommending this be done in person, in the letter of engagement, or at the time of the VOI interview
  • Contacting IT advisors to have their firewall/security checked
  • Obtaining cybercrime insurance
  • Ensuring there is a written plan for dealing with cyber security breaches

The conveyancing profession takes the managing of trust accounts seriously as it is a fundamental aspect of conveyancing services, so we are expecting all firms to respond to varying degrees.

New Eckermann Conveyancers protocols to guard against cybercrime

The Eckermann team has long been at the forefront of investing in technology and systems to carry out conveyancing services accurately and safely, so an internal system has already made it possible for new operating procedures to be defined and implemented.

Now that we can analyse the way scammers hit Adelaide conveyancers, particularly with the ability to intercept emails with the purpose of redirecting funds, Eckermann Conveyancers has immediately banned the inclusion of any trust account details or requests being sent via that method.

The Eckermann team now operates as follows:

  • Clients will receive a settlement statement only, attached to an email
  • Instead of the email containing any trust account details, it will advise them that a text message will be sent with that information
  • The Eckermann team member working with the client will call them to let them know the trust details are on the way via text

By mixing the delivery channels, we can disrupt the scammers for now.

Of course, the criminal mind will keep evolving, just as our security measures will, too.

In the meantime, building your own online “savvy” to question any sensitive information or requests sent/received by email, will be yet another way you can continue to transact online with a sense of confidence and security.

Image: Security Stock-11229 by Hivint via Flickr. CC BY 2.0