Land Registry's property fraud line receiving nearly 1,000 inquiries per year

The property fraud line set up three years ago by Land Registry have received “nearly 3,000 calls and emails” in order to help protect homes from criminals.

The organisation say the service, launched on 5th February 2013 connects concerned members of the public to “specially trained staff for practical guidance on what to do next.”

Land Registry say they have prevented 199 fraudulent applications on properties over the last six and a half years, to a total value of £82 million.

Alasdair Lewis, Director of Legal Services, said: “Since we launched our property fraud line, property-owners have become more aware of the risk of someone stealing their identity in order to either sell or take out a mortgage on their home before disappearing with the money.

“That’s why we urge home-owners to follow our advice to reduce their risk of falling victim to property fraud.”

Included in that figure of £82 million is the case of Penny Hastings whose buy-to-let house was apparently sold by her tenant.

Land Registry say the property’s rightful owner, Penny Hastings, called their property fraud line after becoming suspicious that someone had fraudulently sold a property which she owned and rented out.

“It turned out the tenant was part of a fraud ring – once he’d rented Penny’s house using a false identity, he and an accomplice put the house on the market. The accomplice was a lady who had changed her name to Penelope Hastings by deed poll and then secured a passport in that name.

“However, Land Registry did not register the sale as we suspected a fraud. This meant that Penny Hastings still maintains the legal ownership of the property. Unfortunately, an unwitting buyer paid £1.35 million for the property. The police are currently investigating the fraud.”

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