Could your home be stolen?

As reported in the Sunday Express on Sunday 6th March 2011.

Criminals are taking advantage of changes in the law to transfer the ownership of land and property to themselves. They are easily able to do this because land certificates have been abolished and all property titles in England and Wales are published online. It is believed the problem was “substantial” and growing.

By changing an owners’ address for official correspondence, a fraudster can take out a mortgage and even sell the property.

Anyone owning an interest in property can be the victim of property fraud. The most likely victims are the elderly, particularly those in care homes or hospital, homeowners who live abroad, absent landlords, where a relationship breaks down, people owning properties outright, where a property is empty or is bought to let.

“Fraudsters often target properties where there is no mortgage or the owner lives elsewhere. They may attempt to acquire the title by using a forged transfer or impersonating the owner.”

Could it not also be possible for Banks/lenders/fraudsters to hire third parties to sell an investors property in the event of a dispute instead of resolving it and going through the courts?
This would be an example of a relationship that has broken down and we all know that banks are under pressure to get rid of debt and have more Cash on account, by whatever means necessary, due to their high leverage and insolvency (which required Government bailout with your money.)
Remember white collar criminals are on the rise in these challenging times and prepared to go to more extreme lengths to make a ‘profit’.

You can search the internet and media for complaints against private banks, nationalised banks and part government owned banks – in the US, UK and worldwide.

“How can I prove ownership of my house if I don’t have a Land Certificate?
The register of your ownership is exactly the same, as are all the entries on your register. We will issue an official copy of your register and a Title Information Document instead of a certificate; this explains why we have issued it and how to get copies of your register in the future. All the information is held electronically. It is a safer way of holding the information and reduces the risk of fraud.” – Land Registry

So as far as the Land Registry is concerned, there is less risk having got rid of Certificates! As usual, the Land Registry/Government are not there to help – so it is once again up to you to protect yourself.

Whereas many discuss the problems, I like to search out solutions to these problems as well, wherever I can find them.

Fortunately you can get your free guide on How to Safeguard against Property Fraud here. Download it now from the Land Registry site: www1.landregistry.gov.uk/propertyfraud

Here you will find suggestions to add more addresses for service, including a solicitor and putting a restriction on the title. And be careful what you sign – as mentioned white collar crime appears to be on the increase with more litigation, where the only winners seem to be lawyers and large corporations.

Read the full article from the Sunday Express below and on their site.


“CRIMINALS are taking advantage of changes in the law to transfer the ownership of land and property to themselves.

They are easily able to do this because land certificates have been abolished and all property titles in England and Wales are published online.

Many home owners may not even be aware that a fraudster who has impersonated them in a form of identity theft has stolen the rights to their property until it is too late.

Solicitor Patrick McCloy, said yesterday: “I have come across four cases of this in the last year alone.”

He added that he believed the problem was “substantial” and growing.

By changing an owners’ address for official correspondence, a fraudster can take out a mortgage and even sell the property.

The most likely victims are the elderly, particularly those in care homes or hospital, homeowners who live abroad, absent landlords and people owning properties outright.

Criminals are using changes in the law to transfer the ownership of property to themselves

People in these categories often own properties without a mortgage, making them easier targets.

In 2009-10, the Land Registry, the state body which holds all records of UK properties, paid £4.9million for 53 claims arising from fraud and forgery, a tenfold increase on the £491,656 for 15 claims in 2004-05.

The scam typically sees fraudsters take out a mortgage using someone else’s identity.

They put some of it into an account to make some repayments and pocket the rest.

The lender only finds out when the bank account runs dry, with the real property deed holder left liable for the debt.

In 2009 Simon and Christine Rowntree thought selling their large family home in Birmingham to move to a smaller property would be straightforward but to their amazement, the Land Registry told them they no longer owned their house.

Christine said: “We couldn’t believe it. We didn’t have a mortgage, we owned it outright. It was just unbelievable.” Trevor Guy, who owns land in Manchester, had his property stolen by fraudsters who took out a mortgage for more than £100million.

He took the case to court, but while the court did not dispute he was the rightful owner, he was deemed liable for the debt charge run up by the crooks. Mr Guy continues to fight his case.

Ben Francis, of estate agents Sullivan Thomas in Parsons Green, west London, recently foiled a fraud when a tenant warned him that the flat he was renting had been “sold” by a fraudster.

Wiltshire solicitor Mr McCloy has teamed up with other lawyers to launch Gatekeeper Protection, a service designed to guard against theft by placing restrictions against an owner’s title.

The Land Registry website offers guidance and reassurance that it will compensate victims, but there is no guaranteed entitlement.

The Land Registry has said that increased investment in counter-fraud has already prevented fraud attempts of an estimated £20million. A spokeswoman said: “Homeowners have to be on the ball all the time.”

Last night Jamey Johnson, head of watchdog Action Fraud, said: “Victims should report fraud by visiting our website actionfraud.org.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040.”

Article By Tracey Boles on Sunday March 6,2011
Read more at: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/232866/Your-home-could-be-stolen

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