Only last week was yet another story about the devastating consequences of cyber-crime recounted in the press and on the BBC website where I read about it. Maggie Senior needed to transfer £26,000 to the account of her solicitors in connection with a house purchase only to find that although she had sent it the solicitors never received it.
Someone had hacked into the email exchanges between Maggie and her solicitors and, having gauged the perfect time to strike, sent her a message asking for the money. All looked perfectly normal and unsurprisingly Maggie made the transfer without hesitation. Only when a second and unexpected payment was requested did she smell a rat and contact her solicitors and the police and was told that she had been induced to send the payment to a bogus account. She was very fortunate that £22,000 was recovered but she was still £4,000 out of pocket. More often than not the perpetrator of the fraud gets away scot free.
Maggie Is not alone in being targeted in this way: every year there are scores of instances of such crimes and in cases like Maggie’s it is not always clear if the fraudsters have hacked into the systems of the solicitors or their client. Either way the consequence is devastating for the victim who often cannot recover some or all of the stolen money.
We all know that cyber-security is an ever growing risk and cyber-crime is now one of the most prevalent crimes in the UK and researches suggest that nearly a third of all crimes against an individual are cyber-crimes. IT, in all its forms, is something hardly any of us can now do without whether for the management of the most essential aspects of our daily lives or through the range of social media that enables us to keep in touch. For all these reasons we are all at risk and need to safeguard not only our money but also our most sensitive personal information. Whilst anti-virus systems are important personal care and diligence are equally if not more so.
Of course cyber-crime does not only affect individuals but is a serious risk to the business community. 43% of cyber-attacks are aimed at small business; billions of pounds each year are lost or paid as a result of ransomware and malware, of phishing and vishing, of hacking, by the modifying or falsifying of emails and responding to communications from bogus firms.
Here at Jordans we take cyber-crime and the protection of your data and your financial security and well-being as paramount duties. In accordance with the recently introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) we operate the strictest controls over the safeguarding, management and use of your personal data. In relation to your financial resources we adhere to the obligations placed on us by the money laundering regulations. In respect of the handling of your money we will neither accept nor supply bank account details by email whether this be from a client or another firm of solicitors we have been dealing with for years and in whom we place complete trust. We ensure that our bank account details are supplied in an un-corruptible form and will not be changed during the process of a transaction without written confirmation of this being supplied to our clients.
We would far rather a client took the trouble to contact us and ask for confirmation that the details of our account supplied at an earlier stage of the instructions remained accurate rather than assume that such was the case and discover that their communications had been hacked. As Maggie Senior found out, it’s better to be wise before rather than after the event.
If you have been affected by anything raised in this blog you can contact Julian Gill free on 0330 300 1103 or request a call back. Julian practices in Commercial Property and non contentious business matters.