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Gloucestershire Business News

Belvoir issues warning over homebuyer scam

Homebuyers have been warned about a growing email scam taking advantage of demand for property ahead of the end of the Stamp Duty holiday.

Estate and lettings agents Belvoir has shared advice on avoiding the scam with financial services trade association UK Finance offering warnings for possible victims.

Belvoir Gloucester managing director Anthony Stick said: "By hacking into the system of a conveyancing firm, fraudsters send an email to buyers when a deal nears completion claiming to be from their solicitor.

"Outlining an administrative error, it provides updated bank account details for the buyer to transfer funds."

UK Finance, which promotes secure financial transactions, said this type of crime was responsible for the loss of £16.2million, one person losing £300,000.

Belvoir offered tips to avoid being scammed.

Don't assume fraudsters write or speak in a certain way - emails can be polite and polished, featuring logos and letterheads that are perfect copies of the real thing.

If you have even a quiver of doubt, step back from the situation and take a breath. Buying a home can be a fraught process and it is easy to get caught up in the moment.

Never send money without verifying the authenticity of the account information - call or visit your solicitor's office to confirm the details.

Do not call the number listed on the invoice that has raised your suspicion.

Work with people you trust. Go with conveyancing solicitors and estate agents with longstanding reputations.

Belvoir also provided fraud red flags for homebuyers.

Emails that notify you of a change of bank details.

Duplicate invoices - one will be real, one will be fake.

Pressure to act as soon as possible. Fraudsters often strike on a Friday afternoon, hoping you will not realise a mistake until after the weekend when they have had time to move the money on.

A change, no matter how minor, to an email address. Often the fraudulent email will come from an address that is similar to the legitimate one.

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