A new ITV drama will feature a highly sophisticated property fraud that involves criminals stealing your identity and selling your house undercover.
The four-part psychological thriller, Our House, sees Tuppence Middleton play mother-of-two Fi Lawson, who discovers her house has mysteriously changed hands without her knowledge.
The show is based on a 2019 Sunday Times bestselling novel by Louise Candlish – and although it is a work of fiction, the story was inspired by a real estate fraud case in 2015.
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The first victims of the scam discovered that their London home had been rented to a bogus tenant and then sold on his instructions using forged documents and a third party posing as the landlord.
Author Louise previously told Criminal Element: “Properties have become overvalued and people have become these accidental millionaires living in pretty average homes.
“At the same time, a whole terrible real estate fraud industry developed. I really wanted to write about a crime that I hadn’t read about before in fiction.”
Fraud, often organized by criminal networks, consists of duping notaries, real estate agents and the Cadastre.
Once they get your identity, they claim title to your home and change ownership in their name, allowing them to take out loans secured by the property or even sell it.
Last year the Land Registry revealed it had paid £3.5million in compensation for fraud and inaccuracies in its register between July 2019 and July 2020, reports the Mirror.
The Reverend Mike Hall was in North Wales for work last year when he received a call from neighbors saying someone was at his Luton home.
He returned the next morning, August 21, to find the keys had been changed and a builder was finishing work inside.
The property had been stripped of everything, including carpets, furniture, and curtains.
Mr Hall phoned the police, and the builder left and returned with the new owner’s father, who said he bought the terraced house in July.
He told Mr Hall: “It is now my property. You are now in breach. Get out.”
He told the BBC: “I went to the front door, tried my key in the front door, it didn’t work and a man opened the front door for me.
“I pushed him [the builder] to one side and entered the property. I really had no idea what he was doing there.”
An investigation later revealed that a duplicate driving license and a bank account opened in Mr Hall’s name had been used to sell the house which had been sold to the new owner for £131,000.
Land registry documents showed the deal was done and the new buyer was the registered owner of his home, meaning he legally owned the property.
Police initially told him it was not a fraud, despite serious concerns about the transaction.
Mr Hall said: “I was shocked – after seeing the house in its condition I was a bit in shock anyway.
“But then to be told by the police that they didn’t believe a criminal offense had been committed here was just unbelievable.”
The Land Registry said: “We work with professional transfer agents, such as solicitors, and rely on them and the checks they carry out to spot fraudulent attempts to impersonate landlords.
“Despite our best efforts, we record a very small number of fraudulent transactions each year.”
HM Land Registry has an online page highlighting advice for landlords on how they can protect their property against fraud.
A spokesperson told the Mirror: ‘There are steps landlords can take to protect their properties from fraud, such as signing up for HM Land Registry’s free Property Alert service.
You can also protect your property by requesting to put a restriction on the title deeds to your property, preventing the Land Registry from registering a sale or mortgage unless a notary or solicitor certifies that the request was made by you.
In recent months, the Law Society has also issued warnings about real estate transaction cameras.
The regulator said criminals were targeting property purchases in an attempt to trick people into transferring their security deposit to them.
Frauds almost always involve the criminals pretending to be the victim’s lawyer to defraud them by diverting their payment to an account controlled by the scammers.
“We urge our members to share these flyers with their clients to protect them from these highly sophisticated and cruel schemes,” said Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce.
“These frauds can involve huge sums of money and have a devastating lifelong impact on the home buyer and their personal finances. Lawyers and their clients can all play a role in making these crimes more difficult for criminals .”
A homebuyer has been scammed into handing over £640,000. Emails between the buyer and his notary had been intercepted by criminals, who were able to collect all the information relating to the house…
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This notice was published: 2022-03-09 21:24:38