Prevention is Protection - Use Lawyer Checker

Posted: 28/04/2015

Be a well informed and diligent conveyancer.

Protect client money and assets – use Lawyer Checker.

What is Lawyer Checker? Why should we use it?

The cold hard facts: Increasing trend in vendor conveyancer fraud; the tide has turned.

• 2012-SRA released a Warning Notice on Bogus Firms confirming that conveyancers can no longer rely on Find A Solicitor to verify firm validity.

• Criminals have hacked themselves onto the Find A Solicitor list in order to gain a further badge of legitimacy in a fake transaction.

• Over 1400 organised crime gangs trying to steal mortgage advances - National Fraud Authority

• These criminal fraudsters are trying to steal your client’s purchase money that they trust you with. Being conned could mean you send funds to a sophisticated criminal.

• Risks could be devastating – loss of panel status, professional negligence claims, stress and distraction for all staff.

• £735,000 largest amount lost to date

• Over 100 warnings from the SRA about fake solicitors in 2013

• Over 10 known cases of vendor conveyancer fraud since 2012

• Targeted practices being sued and removed from lender panels

• DON’T LET THIS BE YOU!

Combat criminal conveyancer clones:

The need to perform such a check is becoming increasingly relevant given the changing landscape of the legal sector. The leading case in conveyancer fraud, Nationwide v Davisons, demonstrates this need; Gary Davison, Managing Director of Davisons Solicitors says:“Even though we were vindicated and won our case at the Court of Appeal we still feel that it was something of a hollow victory. The distraction of the case, the refusal of the Nationwide to allow us to act for them whilst this was ongoing, and the doubling of our P.I. insurance premium could have had devastating results had we not been tightly managed.We did everything we were supposed to do but got caught up in a nightmare situation. For these reasons we use Lawyer Checker and suggest you do too.”

The Product -Account and Entity Screen:

• Efficient and easy to use

• Account details checked against Lawyer Checker database IMMEDIATELY

• If potential risk identified, comprehensive further research within 4 working hours.

• Further research on entity associated with account includes:

- Confirmation if they are regulated to conduct conveyancing

- Distance of firm from bank address

- Number of transaction for previous year

- Accreditations such as CQS and Lexcel and registrationson expected databases such as FCA and ICO.

What are the results I receive from a check made by Lawyer Checker? The service will provide you with one of three results:

‘Frequent’- account used by numerous other conveyancers in the past and has known it for some time.

‘Infrequent’– account is relatively new or there are a very small number of searches carried out against it.

‘Unknown’- account details are unknown- no track record of use of this account by other conveyancers.

What do we suggest you do with the results?

Approximately 85% of results will come back as Frequent, therefore, if a result is Infrequent or Unknown, it may present a potential risk and we suggest that you seek to satisfy yourself that you are comfortable with sending money to this account.

a. Consider all the information provided to you in conjunction with other information you have on file: There may well be a legitimate reason why the account has presented a potential risk such as incorrect details or it may require further investigation.

b. Call the COLP/COFA at that firm and ask them to confirm their bank details.

c. If you are still not comfortable sending money to the other side, you may wish to consider discussing the risk with your clients and discharging the mortgage directly or aborting the transaction.

STILL UNSURE? ASK YOURSELF -What is our brand reputation and aspiration?

• Demonstrate to clients thorough due diligence

• Be armed with the right tools and information to be able to obtain the assurances you need to act in the best interests of your client.

Ask yourself…..is it really worth NOT doing the check? Keep the fraudsters in check with LawyerChecker.

Kirsty Rogers, Pali Ltd 

www.paliltd.com

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