Greater Manchester Police respond to recent fraud case

The arresting officer of a recent property fraud case stresses the responsibility of property professionals to perform thorough ID checks.

Detective Sergeant Phil Larratt from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has spoken to Today’s Conveyancer, following our recent report of the case where a Stockport man discovered a group of fraudsters had put his £500,000 home up for sale on Rightmove.

In addition, the gang also committed further crimes involving identity fraud.

“This crime group provided both genuine, stolen and fake documentation throughout this series of crimes,” said DS Larratt.

“Saeed Ghani was the individual from the group who used his genuine passport and attended both estate agents in person. Both estate agents requested various documentation to verify his identity, which he provided. On occasions he also provided some documents stolen from insecure mailboxes and others that were edited or produced digitally.”

DS Larratt continued by explaining how the fraudsters were able to falsify the identities of the victims: “The crime group as a whole provided false passport scans to the conveyancing solicitors and financial institutions (to set up bank accounts). Criminals can easily access the dark web to purchase these false IDs, utility bills and other documentation and this is a real threat to the industry.

“This type of incident is relatively uncommon, however it is particularly lucrative especially as they often target expensive properties that home owners no longer have a mortgage for. That said, it is difficult to commit this type of crime and not leave some form of trail.”

We asked the Sergeant what more the conveyancers could have done in this instance: “Organised crime groups actively use remote services to try and commit this type of fraud. Property professionals should therefore do everything possible to verify the identities of their clients.”

Today's Conveyancer