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Attention attorneys: Don’t fall prey to bank account scams

Attention attorneys

Cyber hackers have made off with hundreds of thousands of rands in their latest sophisticated email interception scam that targets property conveyancers, but this could have been avoided by a simple bank account verification process.

With the recent spate of cyber criminal activity in the real estate industry having left a number of innocent victims in dire straits financially, pbVerify is urging conveyancing attorneys to verify the bank account credentials of home sellers and buyers before transferring funds.

This comes in the wake of last night’s exposé by Carte Blanche, which uncovered the latest email impersonation scam doing the rounds, in which property attorneys are primary targets.

In what is described as a sophisticated email hacking scam, the fraudsters intercept emails between property attorneys and their clients, changing the bank account number of the rightful recipient/s of funds to their own, while leaving the account holder’s name unchanged.

Unknown to the client and without bank account verification, funds are then paid over into the fraudster’s account. Attorneys are shocked to find, upon following up on the funds, that the money was not received by their client.

Unfortunately, because the Law Society indemnifies themselves from cyber fraud, the client has no recourse and the property sale falls through, with an inevitable and devastating impact on all innocent parties involved.

These ruinous incidences could have been avoided through a simple process of bank account verification.

The solution

While industry experts are saying there are issues preventing banks putting a process in place to enable the quick and accurate verification of a bank account holder’s name against the bank account number, for as little as R12, pbVerify offers a solution that does just that.

Launched with the goal of helping businesses and individuals dodge the risk associated with digital payments – such as EFTs – our Bank Account Verification tool completely eliminates unnecessary risks in payment processes.

The importance of verifying financial details in this age of digital proliferation cannot be emphasised enough, with criminals becoming more and more sophisticated and the dangers growing around-the-clock.

As long ago as May last year, in an article by BizCommunity, Lew Geffen of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty warned about a spike in digital fraud in the industry, saying it was more prevalent than ever before and advising property professionals to verify financial credentials before transferring funds.

At the time, specialist conveyancing attorney from Guthrie Colananni Attorneys, Lara Colananni, was cited as saying there had been such a huge increase in scams enabled by the electronic interception of communication between attorneys, agents and clients, that the Attorneys Indemnity Insurance Fund no longer covered attorneys who fell victim.

Because there is no recourse and there are limited procedures in place to automatically ward off the ever-growing devices of cyber criminals, South Africans need to take risk management into their own hands – but pbVerify is there to make risk management simple and failsafe.

pbVerify is a registered Credit Bureau in terms of section 43 of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. Its data-systems, data-security and data-processing protocols are audited annually in accordance with the NCA. pbVerify follows strict ISO9001:2015 quality management processes that are audited and internationally certified by TUV Rheinland Germany. pbVerify engineers are certified in ISO27001 IT Security Management.

For more information visit, call us on +27 (0)10 300 4898 or email [email protected].


  1. Business Live – Scam hooks lawyer, but owner pays
  2. BizCommunity – Fraud, an increasingly prevalent threat in real estate industry
  3. Fin24 – Here’s how cyber criminals are targeting attorneys in scams to steal cash

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Disclaimer: The information in this BLOG is provided for general informational purposes only and is the opinion of the author only. No information contained in this blog should be construed as legal advice from pbVerify or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this blog should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.