How to protect yourself from property fraud
It’s not widely known that property fraud is a growing threat to UK homeowners.
One shocking recent case involved a vicar – the Reverend Mike Hall – who got an urgent phone call from his neighbour when he was working away from home. The neighbour told him that someone was in his house and all the lights were on.
He immediately headed back home only to find that builders were busy carrying out work for the ‘new owners’ – except he had no recollection of selling his house!
It turned out that he was a victim of fraud and ‘sale’ tot he new owner had actually been formally registered HM Land Registry! The police wrongly advised hime that it wasn’t fraud
So it’s important to be aware of the risks and protect yourself from property fraud. The Law Society publish useful guidance on how to spot different types of property fraud – such as identity theft where criminals attempt to sell or mortgage a property by impersonating an owner using false or stolen ID.
Once a criminal has stolen the owner’s identity thay can carry out ‘Title fraud’ and change the property legal title from the name of the truw owner to their own. This is done by making an application to the Land Registry using forged documents. Then they can take out loans using the real owner’s equity in the property to secure the funding.
Last year the Land Registry paid out compensation of £3.5m for fraud – but only after protracted legal battles and enormous stress to victims. So it’s particularly important to keep an eye open for anything suspicious or unusual.
Our next blog – coming soon ……
Selling privately (continued)
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