Fraud is a big issue when it comes to the property market, and with current advancements in technology, it’s becoming increasingly more common. As a result, property fraud is one of the leading deterrents for potential house buyers in Swansea, Cardiff and the surrounding areas of South Wales, UK.
Read on to understand what property fraud is and how to protect yourself, your belongings and your home safe from thieves everywhere.
If you have a house for sale in South Wales and you are looking for a quick and guaranteed sale, contact me today. I am a local South Wales property cash buyer and will make a cash offer for any house in South Wales. We buy any house in any condition and can complete the house sale in as little as 7 days. Call me on 02920 501 001 or click the orange button below to find out how much I would pay for your house.
What is property fraud?
Property fraud is when someone convinces The Land Registry – the property ownership record in Wales – that they legally own a property.
This allows fraudsters to sell or mortgage a property, making money and leaving the legal owners in a difficult situation as a result.
Property fraud typically targets un-mortgaged properties with sole owners, landlords, and absent property owners – for example, those that live overseas, are in hospital or are deceased.
Unfortunately, it is easy to become a victim of property fraud if you don’t understand how fraudsters work and take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Property fraud occurs when criminals:
Identify property to target – Targeted properties tend to be empty ones, and those bought in poor condition to renovate and resell.
Obtain fake documents – These will ‘prove’ they are the property owner. This can involve using a replacement passport or ID, such as a driver’s license with a photo of themselves rather than the actual property owner, but most likely the property owner’s name.
Advertise a property for sale under fraudulent documents – A solicitor will then unknowingly transfer the money received for the purchase into fraudulent bank accounts.
Pass money through numerous accounts – This prevents a direct trail to the fraudster’s personal bank account, making property fraud harder to prove.
Types of property fraud
Property fraud can take various forms, with all types being life-changing for victims facing financial and emotional turmoil.
A strong understanding of the different types of fraud and how to protect yourself is key to reducing the anxiety around buying a property and protecting your investment. Whilst property fraud traditionally involves the transfer of title deeds, it can also take the following forms:
Identity theft and impersonation – This is when a criminal impersonates anyone involved in a property transaction. This can include owners, lenders, buyers, borrowers or conveyancers.
Buyers – This includes the criminal using a false ID to make an offer as a potential buyer before withdrawing before any finance is exchanged. From this, they then take anything they have learned about the property owner to commit title fraud.
Lenders – This is where fraudsters provide a forged discharge stating that the mortgage has been paid off when in reality, it hasn’t.
Conveyancers – Fraudsters may impersonate a licensed conveyancer with false letterheads, registering fake sub-officers or fake email addresses.
Companies – Fraudsters may set up fake quick sale companies or imitate real ones, leading buyers and sellers to provide them with personal details.
Title and registration fraud – This is where criminals steal a property owner’s identity and then change the name and title on the property to their own.
Mortgage fraud – This occurs when they steal money from a financial institution or private lender through the mortgage process.
Sellers – This is where a fraudster impersonates a property owner and attempts to sell a property that doesn’t belong to them.
How to protect yourself from property fraud
It’s not all doom and gloom for property owners or potential property owners. There are steps you can take to ensure the safety of your property and your finances:
Check your property appears on the Land Registry.
If you are a property owner in South Wales, your property should be registered and you can access these documents for just £3.
If the property doesn’t appear on the Land Registry you will need to apply for this through an FR1 form.
Make sure all of your contact details are correct on The Land Registry and confirm whether you currently live in the property.
Set up the Land Registry property alert service. This sends you email alerts or notifications with updates on any interest in your property and also lets you know if it looks like someone is impersonating you to make requests.
Put restrictions on the title deeds to prevent HM Land Registry registering to sell or mortgage your property without a solicitor or conveyancer approved by you.
Hopefully, with this knowledge and understanding of what property fraud is and how to protect yourself from it, property owners will feel some relief.
There are ways to stay safe if you’re looking at selling or purchasing a property. Trust the professional property buyer, Mark King Properties. We can buy any property, regardless of the condition. We use trusted and reputable legal professionals and ensure that all processes form start to completion are safe and secure. Mark King Properties will take on all the responsibility so that you can ficus on the house move.
If you live in South Wales and are considering selling a house, contact Mark King Properties today for expert advice.