A leading finance company has called for estate agent sales particulars to include warnings about property fraud after its Freedom of Information request to the Land Registry revealed a mounting ‘fraud crisis’ in the UK.
ABC Finance says its research shows that 71% of all fraud attempts now come via property-based scams.
It blames this on the Land Registry’s programme of taking title registration online, which means it is now easier for criminal to impersonate property owners, it is claimed.
The finance firm reckons that the average cost of a property scam is just over £100,000 and that they are ‘shockingly simple’.
“Scammers target vulnerable properties and uninformed people looking to buy using basic identity spoofing and spear-phishing tactics,” its reports says.
“One of the most direct and harmful methods fraudsters will use to try to go after your home is by either requesting a change to the Land Registry to either transfer assets into their ownership or impersonate the current owner for financial gain through the property.”
Paul Higgins, of the Home Owners Alliance (left), says: “Unfortunately, the value of successful frauds of property sales have more than tripled – from £7m in 2013 to £25m in 2017.”
She claims that email and IT systems, especially those of conveyancers, are being attacked continuously.
“Scammers are becoming more sophisticated – fake emails can now be very hard to spot, and people may find themselves caught out especially when under the stress of buying a home,” she adds.
The Land Registry says agents should be particularly careful when dealing with vacant properties, those owned by overseas residents and high value ones.