According to Today’s Conveyancer, property conveyancing firms are facing an uptick in property fraud cases due to fraudsters getting smarter and more sophisticated. Spotting a fraudster is getting harder by the day, which means property lawyers need to be extra diligent when reviewing client documents. Fake IDs, licences and passports are extremely convincing and have unfortunately cost the UK HM Land Registry over £73 million since 2001. If this isn’t bad enough, property fraudsters cost a victim £100,000 on average through their scams.
Read our blog to learn the different types of property fraud and see who’s most at risk. Be sure to choose a property conveyancing firm that can spot the signs of property fraud so you enjoy a safe and seamless transfer of ownership.
Types of Property Fraud: Who’s at Risk?
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but property fraudsters love to impersonate buyers, sellers and organisations within the industry the most. How do they do it? Find out below.
Fraudsters impersonate buyers by making an offer on a property only to pull out before the sale is carried out. Why not complete the sale, you say? They already have all the personal information they need to commit title fraud. Title fraud occurs when a fraudster changes the property title from your name to theirs.
Property fraud is easy to commit against sellers. All a fraudster needs to do is sell or mortgage a property using a fake ID. According to The Law Society, those who are most susceptible to this type of fraud are:
- Property owners who are deceased
- Property owners who live overseas
- Sole property owners who live in unmortgaged properties
- Absent property owners
- Property owners currently living in the care of hospitals or care homes
- Property owners who have an equity stake in their property
Defrauding a company is not hard to do. All a fraudster needs to do is establish fake offices and a company website to complete a convincing scam. Fraudsters will pretend to be part of your company by forging letterheads and email addresses.
Signs of Property Fraud
Now that you know the different types of property fraud, what are the warning signs of them? The Law Society compiled a list of tell-tale signs that could indicate that you’ve fallen victim to property fraud. These warning signs are:
- Wanting to speed up the conveyancing process without giving a reason why
- Not wanting to meet in person
- Only communicating by post, telephone or email
- You’re only given a utility bill as proof of residence
- The seller doesn’t live at the property they’re trying to sell
- The information you’re given doesn’t match the property records on the electoral register or the information online
- A party changes their banking details or account funds suddenly
- A party is trying to avoid answering questions
- You’re asked to write down a different address than the one you were previously given
At My Big New Shell, we help customers from Norwich, Ipswich and beyond compare conveyancing quotes online so they can find the right property conveyancing firm for their budget and needs. Use our conveyancing comparison tool here to see which local property lawyer is best suited to help and buy or sell your property with confidence today!