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The Land Registry has paid out around £5 million in compensation to property fraud victims who had their identities stolen from documents published on the government agency’s web site.
Crooks have conned lawyers, banks and building societies to set up fraudulent loans and transfer property titles with false documents based on bank details and signatures on scanned documents downloaded from the web site.
The Land Registry and lawyers have set up measures to combat fraud and has posted a warning about property title theft schemes online.
“Land Registry is aware of third parties offering title theft protection services. One of these has directly referred to Land Registry on their website and in their publicity material,” says the message.
“Land Registry has no direct association or involvement with such websites/publicity and we are considering what action we need to take (if any) in order to safeguard our reputation and protect our customers.”
Latest figures show Land Registry frauds involved property worth £20 million and compensation of £4.9 million was paid out last year, up around 25% from £3.9 million the year before.
Property title insurance warning
The Law Society has also warned homeowners not to bother paying to join schemes aimed at protecting against property fraud, claiming they do not work.
Law Society president Linda Lee said that the adverts were merely scaremongering and the policies were ineffective in the fight against fraud.
“These particular insurance products create no barrier between home owners and fraudsters. There are much more effective measures home owners can take to guard against fraud,” she said.
‘These kinds of adverts are claiming that this kind of insurance is necessary, especially if a home does not have a mortgage. With many non-mortgaged properties likely to be owned by elderly home owners, this type of sales tactic is particularly concerning”
The Land Registry publishes two guides about property fraud: How to safeguard against property fraud and Keeping your address for service up to date.
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