In the first six months of last year, property-related fraud cost the UK an estimated £97m, and earlier in the same year the case of a lender losing over £40m through mortgage fraud hit the headlines.
These alarming figures are just the tip of the iceberg as they don’t take into account cases that have gone undetected or unreported.
Fraudsters often target properties where there is no mortgage or the owner lives elsewhere. They may attempt to acquire the title by using a forged transfer or impersonating the owner. Organised criminals have increasingly used Land Registry to help them transfer the ownership of a house fraudulently, to sell it or take out a large mortgage on the property.
Commenting on the increase in property fraud Nationwide executive director Matthew Wyles said: “The system is too open and needs a root and branch review. “
Mr Wyles was responding to a BBC investigation which applied to change details of house ownership, without being asked for proof of identity.
One way to help stop them is to ensure the contact details that the UK Land Registry hold for you are up to date or to take action to upgrade your title to reduce the risk of property fraud.