Fraud continues to be a major threat to most of us, when a criminal chooses to act illegally or deceptively to gain access to money, data, personal items or property for their benefit.
Here we provide details of the different kinds of fraud that exist in the property market – and what action could be taken to prevent it.
Conveyancing Fraud usually occurs on the day of completion of a property transaction. Fraudsters will send a spoof email that mimics the parties involved in the transfer of money; usually the conveyancing solicitor. Using this method, criminals aim to persuade the buyer to use alternative bank details, to those they already have, and pay monies for the purchase of the property into this ‘new’ bank account. The bank account will be owned by the fraudster and, if the payment goes ahead, the money will be stolen.
To prevent Conveyancing Fraud, it’s worth reading information provided by the Law Society here which includes valuable advice including, for example, calling your solicitor – or known contact – by phone before transferring any payment. This ensures the solicitor has requested it and allows for payment details to be checked. There’s also handy information available on our blog.
Property Title Fraud is when criminals steal a property owner’s identity or use false documents, to illegally transfer a property into their name, fraudulently updating HM Land Registry details. Once ownership is transferred the fraudster can sell the property or raise a mortgage against it – often deceiving solicitors and other parties involved in the process. Properties that are empty for long periods of time, including holiday lets, can be more susceptible to this crime.
There are ways to prevent Property Title Fraud – including setting up property alerts via HM Land Registry or placing a restriction on the property to avoid it being registered for sale.
Rental Fraud occurs when tenants are tricked into paying up front fees, deposits or rent to criminals; many of whom have led victims to believe that rental properties belong to them when they don’t. Criminals place fake adverts with properties to let (stealing photos and property details from unsuspecting private landlords or letting agents) or respond to online requests for rental properties (which often appear on social media).
To prevent Rental Fraud tenants should research any letting agency, landlord or property before handing over any money – using the internet, review sites or phoning contacts using publically available contact details. Posting a request for rental properties online is not recommended.
Overall, as always, it’s important to remain vigilant to prevent being a victim of fraud, you may also find the information available on Reeds Rains special ‘Your Security’ section useful. This can be found here.
Information is also available on the Action Fraud’s website. If you live in Northern Ireland, you can report a fraud on the Police Service of Northern Irelands website and for Wales visit South Wales Police fraud information page.
Remember, at Reeds Rains we never ask for payment via social media or for customers to share information from payment cards. We have strict processes for this sort of transaction which only operate via colleagues in our branches. If you are unsure whether any contact from us is genuine, please contact your local branch, yourself, by phone and speak to one of the team.