An insurance company is launching a policy which it says will protect consumers with comprehensive cover in the event of a fraudulent house sale.
The DUAL Asset ID Fraud policy protects consumers for fraud, forgery or impersonation by a third party purporting to be the seller, buyer or owner of a property.
Sellers, buyers, owners and their mortgage lenders are also covered should the purchase money be misappropriated and the prospective purchasers do not become the owner of the property, or have an enforceable mortgage over it.
The Land Registry recently reported that some £58m had been lost over the last decade to property transaction-related fraud.
In 2013 fraud losses were £7.2m; in 2017, however, the losses were £24.9m.
The company behind the policy claims it will compensate loss to the appropriate parties without the need for them to pursue claims through their solicitor or their solicitor’s Professional Insurance Indemnity insurer.
Over 50,000 have signed up to the Land Registry’s property fraud alert service since it was launched in 2016. Once registered, they receive email alerts when certain types of activities or queries are made concerning a property, allowing owners to take action if necessary.
One of the highest-profile cases in recent years, in 2012, involved an estate agent who spotted her father’s house advertised on Rightmove just three days before it was due to be auctioned.
In reality, her father had no knowledge that it was illegally listed on the portal by fraudsters who had altered the deeds.
Daily Telegraph reports of the subsequent court case - which saw two fraudsters being imprisoned - say that in June 2012 the pair took utility bills from the property owner'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 the owner’s signature and transferred the deeds of the house into one of their names before putting it up for auction - a sale method chosen so that prospective owners would not ask to look around the property.
Another case in 2015 involved veteran war reporter Max Hastings, whose home was the subject of a fraud scam and was ‘sold’ for £1.3m.
Earlier this week police in Leicester gave details of a man they wish to trace in connection with a possible property fraud involving the proceeds of a sale of a property overseas.
The victim had sold the home and was asked to transfer her money into an account in the UK. She was contacted by the potential buyer who provided bank account details for her to make the transfer.
The caller was not genuine and a man was later seen attempting - unsuccessfully - to withdraw the funds from a Leicester branch.
You can see more details of the case here.