Protecting estate funds from cyber crime

Protecting estate funds is part of the responsibilities of an acting executor. Between the months of April and September 2018 financial losses caused by cybercrime increased by 25% according to the latest figures provided by Action Fraud. This means cyber criminals were able to steal £34.6 million during this time.

Conveyancing, Wills and Probate has become an attractive target for a specific type of cybercriminal. Probate cases often involve large amounts of liquid cash waiting to be transferred to beneficiaries and this is where these fraudsters are taking the opportunity to divert thousands of pounds of the estate’s money to themselves.

All solicitors have their own due diligence processes in place to try and protect their clients as much as possible from these types of scams. However, criminals have becoming more and more sophisticated in their attempts to defraud estates and these processes are being put to the test. A recent report by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) has stated that probate fraud is predicted to be in the region of £150 million.

A third of the total cyber-attacks in 2018 were Email attacks and impersonation attacks. This is just one of the techniques used by cyber criminals to try and get their hands on an estates’ funds. Fraudsters will hack a beneficiaries Email address and provide incorrect bank details so that when the inheritance is distributed its paid directly into the criminal’s bank account.

Final Duties want to take extra precautions to protect our clients as much as possible. For this reason, we have chosen to use Lawyer checker’s consumer bank account checker to provide extra security for our clients. All of the solicitors on our panel are required to undertake a consumer bank account check for every beneficiary.

A consumer bank account check is used prior to any transfer of estate funds to ensure that the owner of the bank account is the intended beneficiary. This check will identify fraudulent bank accounts and ensure the safe transfer of a beneficiary’s inheritance.

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