A recent article from the Globe and Mail “Homebuyers targeted by fraudsters impersonating real estate lawyers” (February 23, 2023) warns of an increase in fraudulent real estate transactions, in a scenario that could pose a potential threat to Nova Scotia lawyers.
Review the NSBS Regulations made pursuant to the Legal Profession Act, S.N.S 2004, c.28, including 4.13: Client Identification.
Remember that you must always confirm a prospective client’s identification in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering (Client ID) Regulations of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.
In order to avoid fraud in real estate transactions, perform all searches as thoroughly as possible, be vigilant and take your time – and beware of any aggressive urgency on behalf of the other parties to complete the transaction. Be cautious with all cheques received, especially if they exceed an agreed upon amount. If you decide to proceed with a transaction, be sure to go to the bank website to verify the branch transit number, address and phone number on the cheque. Wait until the bank confirms that the funds are legitimate and are safe to withdraw from the deposit. You may also choose to use the Bank of Canada’s Lynx system, an electronic funds transfer system in which settlement occurs after the clearing of each individual payment, resulting in the transfer of funds in central bank money from one participant to another. Once settled, a payment is final and irrevocable.
For tips to avoid being victimized, and to report or seek advice on dealing with fraud and scam attempts, contact Cynthia Nield at [email protected] or 902 423 1300, x346.