It is well known that money laundering is becoming an increasing problem for the property sector. Data from FortyTwo Data reveals that almost a third of all Suspicious Activity Reports concerning AML infringements reporting to the National Crime Agency have involved property deals.
One of the top reasons why fraudsters are able to get away with laundering through the property sector is that often, proper AML checks are not being done on potential sellers and buyers.
And this won’t necessarily mean there are no AML processes in place, although that is true in some cases. More likely is that checks are being carried out, but that the fraudulent documents such as passports and driving licences are now so sophisticated, that manual checks are struggling to spot the fakes.
Electronic verification is key
The Fifth Money-Laundering Directive was published this year, and one notable update was that Customer Due Diligence measures should identify the customer based on information from a ‘reliable and independent source’, ‘including, where available, electronic identification means’. This implies that not only will the source have to be reliable and independent, it will also have to be electronic.
Electronic identification is widely recognized as the most reliable, secure and efficient source of information for identity solutions and will eventually rid the need for manual checks that are open to errors.
SmartSearch offers a one-stop-shop AML verification system where users can use one platform to do all anti-money laundering checks and searches, validating documents and making electronic identification verification quickly and easily.
And not only is using an AML platform quicker and easier than manual checks, but it is also much more reliable, as it can validate documents with information from major data suppliers like Experian, Equifax, Dow Jones and Companies House.
Speed is key
This is all very useful, but what about when you are out and about and want to make a quick decision on a potential client?
After working with lenders, brokers and estate agents, we realized that the nature of their job means they need to be able to make quick decisions. Often, they are verifying a passport or other ID in the client’s home. But now with so many forged documents, they cannot be sure, even if the document looks real, whether it is or not.
It was in response to this need to be able to give a potential buyer a quick pass or fail by simply checking their documents there and then that we developed SmartAML – a fully integrated app.
The Smart money is on remote checks
SmartAML is able to electronically verify all documents remotely, with the same capabilities as the full SmartSearch verification platform. This means users can carry out instant AML checks when they are in a client’s home or office and receive the results to their handheld device in seconds.
The app reads the name, full address and date of birth from the driving license, all the user has to add is their title (Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc) and press send. SmartAML then validates the information against the credit reference databases and automatically screens the person against worldwide sanction and PEP watch-lists which contain around 2.5 million data subjects.
The results are delivered back to the user in seconds with a green tick or a red cross. The search outcome details are then automatically uploaded into the full SmartSearch system back at the office for the rare occasions that enhanced due diligence needs to be performed.
With the ever-increasing presence and risk of forged identity documents, the introduction of electronic verification has brought with it confidence and certainty to AML compliance.
But we understand that the property world is a fast-paced one, and that those working in the sector are under pressure to meet their targets, so need to be able to do quick checks.
So we wanted to be able to offer a quick and easy way for our clients to perform exactly the same comprehensive checks on their customers whether they are in the office or out in the marketplace.
By launching the SmartAML app we have given them much more freedom and flexibility, so they can concentrate on spending more time serving their clients rather than being caught up in compliance red tape.