Home Title And ID Fraud

Gaining a foothold on the property ladder has been no mean feat throughout the past decade.

Eligibility regulations and lending criteria tightened considerably following the financial crisis in 2008, property prices increased by 40% whilst the average wage increases were modest at best.

When homeowners sacrifice and fight to own a property to call their own, having it wrenched away by property fraudsters would be heart breaking.

Yet, this type of fraud is on the rise with more people swindled out of their own property via home title fraud and ID fraud.

Home title fraud occurs when a thief obtains the title of the property by stealing the owner’s identity with the sole purpose of selling it on and keeping the sales proceeds for themselves.

Whilst this fraud is not prominent, it is on the rise.

Since 2005, 678 property fraud claims have been made, with a total pay-out exceeding £73.3 million according to a freedom of information request (FoI) made by ABC Finance.

This form of scam is extremely financially damaging, costing insurers £107,669 on average.

In comparison, the average loss to the consumer for an online scam is only £600.

71% of all UK local authority fraud is comprised of property related fraud, dwarfing other fraud (14%) and council tax related offences (9%), according to CIFFA research into fraud reports made to local authorities.

The research looked at over 80,000 fraud cases and found property fraud issues that were detected or prevented totalled £216 million in 2018.

Governmental bodies have recognised this threat and have started implementing defences to protect homeowners.

Since 2009, HM Land Registry (HMLR) has prevented 254 fraudulent applications being registered, representing a combined saving of £117 million.

Additionally, HMLR’s Property Alert service enables homeowners to log details of 10 properties. The service monitors the properties and informs the owner if any attempted changes to registration are made.

Earlier this year, a fraudster was jailed for 20 months after changing her name by deed poll and selling a house for £75,000 without the knowledge of the actual owner.

Sarah Broadbelt, changed her name and took out a passport under the amended alias Marion Patterson, actual owner of the Birmingham based property.

Having opened two bank accounts with Barclays and Halifax, the fraudster had all the necessary ingredients to sell somebody else’s home.

It was then sold in 2015 for £75,000. The actual owner has since been reinstated to the title and the buyer reimbursed. However, to get to this point, many people were inconvenienced for years and the fraudsters profited from the inconvenience and misery.

Prosecutors insisted that Sarah Broadbelt was a mule for an organised crime group and may still be at large, enjoying the money from the home sale.

Law firms need to be able to identify at risk sales. The home title details indicated Broadbelt was only six when she purchased the home. Despite the fraudsters claiming the home was bought in trust, this should have been a red flag preventing the sale from proceeding until further investigations were made.

Similarly, comprehensive identification checks or account verification checks could have found a connection between the new passport and bank accounts, which would again create warning signs.

Lawyer Checker offer a fully inclusive suite of products and services designed to protect and to promote your firm against the persistent threat of property fraud.

Don’t let the fraudsters steal client money and ruin your law firm’s precious reputation.

Book a demo today. Call 0800 133 7127 or email: [email protected]

This article was submitted to be published by Lawyer Checker as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Legal Cyber Risk. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Legal Cyber Risk.

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