The gaping holes in the UK property market left by the police, agents, lenders and brokers for criminal to slip through have been highlighted by a shocking new mortgage fraud case.
It has been revealed by the i newspaper that a couple selling a home in West London in February, who wish to remain anonymous, had their identities stolen by a fraudster posing as a property buyer.
The scammer contacted their estate agency pretending to be a representative of a legitimate buying agency and booked two appointment to view the property during which key details of the couple’s personal details were obtained and their identities stolen.
These were then used to make a successful mortgage fraud attempt to obtain an £800,000 mortgage against the property.
The money was then wired to a bank account with an almost identical name to that of a reputable London conveyancing solicitor, but which was instead controlled by the fraudster.
Despite the attempts to steal their identities being reported to the police, no action was taken as identity theft is not a police recordable crime, Action Fraud says.
And because the lender involved wanted to get the money back without involving the police and instead employed private investigators to recoup the funds, it had not reported the fraud.
The scammer then went on attempt a further nine frauds on the property, including several bridging loans.
The newspaper says it was a diligent mortgage broker from Tapton Capital, who had been approached by the fraudster this month to organise another loan against the property, who then checked with the owner in person that they had applied for the loan and uncovered what had been going on.