Property fraud is on the rise, but how can it happen and what can you do to prevent it?

The tactics of scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated with criminals carrying out identity theft, impersonating those carrying out legitimate property transactions and obtaining mortgages falsely, as well as even selling your property without your knowledge.

As a property is usually the most valuable asset a person owns, it is essential that measures are taken to protect it and not to fall victim to any fraud involving your assets. Properties sell for large amounts of money, making them an attractive prospect for criminals. People have experienced having their homes sold right from under their noses, having their property transferred into someone else’s name and having mortgages taken out in their name through the use of false documents. Properties most at risk are those left empty, ones with no mortgage and unregistered properties.

Criminals often target the sole owners of unmortgaged homes, absent owners such as landlords, those who are in long term care in a home or hospital, owners who have deceased, those living abroad and owners who have accumulated equity in their property. For trusted Conveyancing Solicitors Reading, contact a site like Sam Conveyancing who can put you in touch with Conveyancing Solicitors Reading.

Types of fraud

Title & Registration

A criminal steals an owner’s identity and amends the property title to their name. This could be done through an application to the Land Registry by registering a fake transfer or forged mortgage. Loans can then be applied for using the owner’s equity. A criminal steals an owner’s identity and amends the property title to their name. This could be done through an application to the Land Registry by registering a fake transfer or forged mortgage.

Mortgage

This occurs when criminals steal money from a bank or building society through the mortgage application process.

Warning Signs for Conveyancers

The only contact details you have are a telephone number or email address.

The information supplied by the client differs from that held on the electoral role, for example.

The person selling does not live at the property

The client is reliant on utility bills as their only proof of address

Changes are made to the bank details supplied partway through the process

The property has been under ownership for a long time but the person selling it is younger than you’d expect

You are asked to write to a different address although you’ve been told the person is an owner-occupier

You find a client is evasive when answering questions

A request has been made for urgency with no reasonable explanation

The property is listed at well below its market value to speed up the sale process.