Mortgage free? If Land Registry don’t know, you are a fraud risk
You can’t be too careful in the age of Cyber Crime, so register with the Land Registry Property Alert Service. It’s free - but could prove priceless.
Increasingly sophisticated criminals find flaws in the house buying process and exploit them without mercy. Take for example, the case involving a £1.3 million house in Fulham owned by the wife of the author Max Hastings. A criminal gang did their research, found that the home was mortgage free and created genuine documentation to pose as the owner. The audacious culprits then negotiated a cash sale where the funds promptly disappeared via a bank account in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. It's becoming normal. From 2013-2017, the value of successful frauds rose from £7million to £25million.
This type of fraud has many victims, not least the buying party – and increasingly, honest professionals overseeing the purchase are coming under scrutiny as to their potential liability. Especially where the agent has fulfilled the role of both letting agent and selling agent.
A simple way to protect yourself and your clients
Telling the Land Registry your property is mortgage free can prevent enormous stress for landlords – and protect letting agents and property managers from facing allegations of negligence too.
The Land Registry Property Alert Service lets you know immediately with a text when anyone applies to make changes to the ownership status. Anyone who feels they could be at risk should sign up, particularly if properties are mortgage free.
Ensuring mortgage free properties are registered can protect your reputation, and your clients’ sanity – and strike a blow at the criminals. Without it, you are making their lives too easy…
To register for the free service, property owners must:
• Click here and ‘Create Account’
• Fill out the details of all at risk properties
• If any attempts are made to adjust the ownership status, they with be notified immediately via Text
If you think it will never happen to you, consider how far the fraudsters will go
1) Fraudsters (or often their surrogates) are known to change their name by Deed Poll to obtain a ‘legitimate’ passport and/or driving licence.
2) Having obtained the necessary documentation, the fraudster then appoints an estate agent to sell the property
3) They stipulate that they are only interested in cash buyers, avoiding the additional checks by a lender
4) The transaction will take place and the funds are sent to the ‘vendor’s’ bank account, which is almost always located overseas.
What other risks are you facing?
Speak to our cyber team to find out