Cyber criminals who have penetrated email systems are causing problems for New Zealand law firms.
The New Zealand Law Society has been advised of two instances in the last week where a firm's email has been used to send fraudulent payment instructions.
In the first, during a conveyancing transaction the firm received monies from its clients for the purpose of paying another law firm.
The first firm had previously received payment instructions from the second law firm.
After receiving the client monies, the first firm received an email purporting to come from the second law firm, requesting that payment be made to a bank account which was different to that previously advised.
The payment was made by the first firm to what turned out to be a bank account controlled by fraudsters, resulting in loss of the money.
Another New Zealand firm was involved in an international property purchase and was given false instructions, purportedly from the client, to deposit a portion of the funds into what turned out to be a fraudster-controlled bank account. Information on the "New Zealand" bank account was attached to the email and included a false statement.
The New Zealand Law Society strongly advises confirming emailed instructions by another means, such as direct phone contact. It is now clear that fraudsters are specifically targeting New Zealand law firms.