A company claims that some 18 per cent of property firms have seen a rise in criminals attempting to launder money or commit financial crime through their businesses in the last year.
And six per cent of firms claim they have been victims of money laundering or financial crime in the past six months alone.
The survey sample of agencies is small - the whole survey was of only 500 businesses across the legal, property and banking and finance sectors - but of those taking part in the study, businesses in the East Midlands and Northern Ireland were the most likely to come under increased attacks from financial criminals.
Martin Cheek, managing director of SmartSearch - the company commissioning the survey - says: “Governments can warn about financial crime, but these results show the reality of its threat. Not only is it very real, but the criminals behind it are increasingly active. These statistics should ring alarm bells for all regulated businesses – especially those which continue to rely on manual checks to onboard new individual customers and businesses.”
Around a quarter of the surveyed firms admitted they still carried out manual checks on hard-copy documents.
“We know that organised crime gangs can easily make convincing forgeries of ID documents … Money laundering often involves the proceeds of the misery caused by some of the world’s worst crimes” Cheek adds.