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Agents beware: property fraud alert

Wednesday 24 January 2018

East Midlands Regional Fraud Team have issued a warning after investigating a series of property fraud complaints in the Nottinghamshire area, with a consistent trend of using a fake ID.

Fraudsters are continuing to target mortgage-free properties, with the aim of selling them on and pocketing the proceeds — all from under the nose of the legitimate owner.

There have been a number of high profile property fraud cases in recent years, with the growing trend in property crime seeing criminals make hundreds of thousands of pounds from houses belonging to other people by claiming to be the owner and successfully transferring the deeds or even selling the building.

East Midlands Regional Fraud Team are warning against fraudsters that are target properties where there is no mortgage, by impersonating the registered owner by using fake or forged documents, with the intent to sell or mortgage it. Here's what you need to be aware of when helping to prevent property fraud.

  • Familiarise yourself with the latest guidance on identification documents and how to check them for inconsistencies.
  • Make sure properties are registered with HM Land Registry and urge customers to sign-up to the free property alert service. More than 50,000 people are already subscribed to the service, which notifies homeowners when certain activity occurs on a registered property.
  • Homeowners who feel they may be at risk can apply for a restriction to be entered on a property. A restriction can stop activity, such as a transfer of a mortgage, unless a solicitor or conveyancer certifies that the application was made by the owner.
  • Our 45 minute online Fraud Awareness course looks at the primary motivators for fraud and covers how to identify when fraud is being committed.

The GOV.UK website offers advice to consumers on how to protect their land and property from fraud.

If you suspect a property you are dealing with may have been targeted by fraudsters, call the HM Land Registry’s property fraud line on 0300 0067 030 or email reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk. Alternatively you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.