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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agent spots her father's house fraudulently listed on Rightmove

An estate agent spotted her father’s house advertised on Rightmove just three days before it was due to be auctioned - even though he had no knowledge that it was illegally listed on the portal by fraudsters who had altered the deeds.

The agent’s father, Minh To, discovered the scam only 72 hours before the sale was to take place, and he is now calling for tougher checks by the Land Registry to ensure similar cases do not happen again. 

This morning’s Daily Telegraph carries the story of how police traced the fraudsters - Saeed Ghani and Atif Mahmood - who invited bids for the property starting at £300,000. The pair have now been jailed by a court in Preston for seven and a half years, and two years and nine months respectively. 

The newspaper report says that in June 2012 the fraudsters took three utility bills from To's postbox, which was located at the bottom of a drive out of sight of the front door. They also raided the family’s dustbin to obtain other documents.

The pair forged To’s signature and transferred the deeds of the house into Ghani's name before putting it up for auction - a sale method chosen so that prospective owners would not ask to look around the property.

To is quoted in the paper as saying:”The people responsible deserved the sentence that they got because it was not just me that they targeted. When you know what they have done, it is quite clever really and it is up to the Land Registry to make it more difficult for them.

“It was even easier for them because I had paid off my mortgage and they did not have to get another signature - now I have made sure my solicitor's signature is on the deed too. All it took for them to do this was to copy my signature, a bill and faked documents - it was that easy.”

You can see the full Telegraph story here.

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    And solicitors charge so much to do the same thing!

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    Julie Jenkins from Land Registry:
    This case shows how property fraud can happen. Although Land Registry is constantly reviewing its anti-fraud practices and policies, no system can be 100% fraud-proof, which is why we urge property owners to do all they can to minimise the risk of becoming a victim of property fraud. Our dedicated counter-fraud team works with a number of agencies to gather intelligence about how the fraudsters operate. We know, for example, that certain properties are more at risk of being targeted. These are properties which are empty, rented out, mortgage-free or not registered with Land Registry. We have a range of advice to reduce the risk of being a victim of property fraud which can be found on our website: www.gov.uk/propertyfraud. This includes keeping your contact details up to date so that you receive any correspondence from us. You can also sign up to our free Property Alert service which means you will receive email alerts when there is certain activity on your property such as an application for a new mortgage or change of ownership. To sign up visit www.gov.uk/property-alert.

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