£500k property fraudster faces 14 months

Following the case which occurred last month, a third member of a gang responsible for the Stockport property fraud operation was sentenced last Wednesday.

The victim of the fraud has described his shock of seeing his £500,000 home for sale on Rightmove.

Police later found that, by stealing letters delivered to his address, two men had forged his signature in order to falsify documents required to put the home up for auction.

Saheed Ghani and Atif Mahmood admitted to conspiracy to defraud and were jailed for seven and a half year and two years and nine months respectively.

Toma Ramanauskaite also admitted conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to 14 months, suspended for two years and required to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.

Following a call from his daughter in November 2012, the home owner – Mr Minh To – was alerted to the crime, being told his house had been listed for sale online.

Mr To stated: “She rang me and said ‘where are you going?’ I said ‘I’m going nowhere’. Then she said ‘Why are you selling the house then? I’ve seen it on Rightmove’.

“I didn’t know what to think. I felt terrible. I felt scared.”

The advert on Rightmove invited bids on the property from a starting price of £300,000 and included a request that the current residents were “not to be disturbed”.

Mahmood and Ghani had carried out the operation having stolen Mr To’s utility bills from a mailbox.

By forging his signature, they transferred the property deeds into Ghani’s name and then put the property up for sale. This was in the hope of a quick sale and there would be a lack of need for an estate agent to show the property to potential buyers. The advert was found by Mr To just three days before commencement of the intended auction.

The fact that Mr To had paid off his mortgage meant that the men did not need the authority of the lender in order to transfer the property deed.

In order to prevent more people being targeted, Mr To believes the rules need to be tightened.

“It’s very simple. The Government should make it the law that if you’re going to change the land registry deeds you should need two signatures.”

Today’s Conveyancer have spoken to Greater Manchester Police on this matter and are awaiting response from the arresting officer.

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