ITV drama was right – badly done ID/AML is an open door to scams

MD of Property Searches Direct asks why some estate agents still risk everything by not using tech to keep the fraudsters out of the property market.

aml identity checks property scams

The recent thought-provoking ITV drama ‘Our House’ starring Martin Compston and Tuppence Middleton highlighted the nightmare scenario of going away for a few days and coming back to find strangers moving into your house after a successful scam.

Featuring a cleverly-orchestrated fraud (if a little too simplistic in my view) it saw a London home sold fraudulently, demonstrating real challenges that exist in our system if quite simple precautions are not taken.

Had either the estate agent or conveyancer insisted upon electronic ID/AML checks then the scam would have been spotted, even with the perpetrator being in possession of the real client’s passport, facial recognition would have spotted the imposter immediately.

While the TV drama may seem far-fetched it does happen. Ask the Reverend Mike Hall who was duped via a complex scam that resulted in the loss of his Luton home in November last year.

Identity and Anti Money Laundering checks (ID/AML) ideally should be completed once, and then reliable and standardised information shared between stakeholders under the new ‘safe harbour standards’.


But in reality, most vendors and buyers will continue to pay twice or even three times before these standards are widely accepted.

And some conveyancers still insist on seeing original documents without performing electronic checks, even though fakes are almost impossible to spot when professionally created by a fraudster.

This is all the more important given the global attempts to stop money laundering and, more recently, the international effort to rein in Russian oligarchs and their friends.

Many ID/AML solutions have an international sanctions and PEPs check that will help you to avoid breaching these rules and so it is worth including in your standard practices now.

Why take the risk at all? Products and services exist to protect businesses from potentially huge financial penalties, so avoiding the latest solutions makes little or no sense whatsoever.

daniel hamilton logbooks imageDaniel Hamilton-Charlton is MD and founder of Property Searches Direct.

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