Recent HMRC guidance to estate and lettings agencies regarding money laundering noted that virtual property transactions create higher risks, but this need not be the case according to anti-money laundering (AML) firm SmartSearch.
Martin Cheek managing director at AML experts SmartSearch, said: “The pandemic forced most transactions to be conducted digitally and for those without a robust anti-money laundering policy in place, that heightens the risk of being exposed to the threat of financial fraud.
“In this new normal we find ourselves in, face-to-face identification processes are no longer viable, and nor are they necessarily reliable.
“But that shouldn’t mean doing deals entirely online should run a greater risk.
“In fact digital ID verification is more secure and accurate than expecting a customer to turn up in person with a piece of paper in hand to prove who they are.”
Therefore, Cheek explained, while the rise in virtual transaction elements might increase risk, correctly using digital and virtual methods might also provide the answer to the issue of money laundering.
He said: “The new guidance from HMRC is a positive step in the right direction in the battle to stop money laundering through property.
“And by using a system such as SmartSearch TripleCheck, estate and lettings agencies can negate the risk of an online transaction and vet a prospective client in seconds.”