For the majority of us our property is the most valuable asset we own.  This asset obviously secures a roof over our head and provides a home in which to live. It is a weighty financial purchase but also has the benefit of generating a good return on your investment over a period of time.

It should then come of no surprise that as there is money to be made, the property industry doesn’t remain untouched by the hands of fraudsters. As the property market is lucrative there are numerous unscrupulous individuals out there willing to commit property fraud, in order to benefit financially from your investment.

property fraud

This type of property fraud is executed by the creation of false documents and identifications. These are used by an individual to transfer a property into their own name and act as the property’s legal owner. This then allows them to fraudulently market and complete a sale of the property, reaping the financial rewards, without the you, the legal owner, being aware this has occurred.

Unfortunately, it appears this type of property fraud (which can also be referred to as ‘property hijacking’) is dramatically on the rise and many home owners have never heard of this terminology or know that such an issue exists. It is therefore important to be aware of any potential warning signs that may indicate you or your property are at risk of falling prey to this fraudulent act.  If you feel you may be a potential victim of property fraud in or around Essex, speak to the knowledgeable Conveyancing Solicitors Essex for further advice.

Below are five ways to avoid falling victim to property fraud.

Identity theft

If you have had your identity stolen this could be transferred to an individual who may then masquerade as the legal owner of your home and commit a fraudulent sale.

Empty properties

If you leave a property empty, which may be the case if you own a property and live overseas, fraudsters can more easily put the property on the market without the owner even noticing.

Rental properties

Some fraudulent gangs will pay people to pose as a tenant and rent a property. This scam will also see the tenant then change their name, by deed poll, to that of the property’s legal owner. The property is again then marketed and sold on quickly to a cash buyer.

Mortgage-free properties

Without the involvement of mortgage company this type of property is also a tempting option for the fraudster as it is much easier and streamlined to complete a sale.

HM Land Registration

You can be a step ahead by ensuring your property is registered with HM Land Registry. This should have been completed at the time of your purchase but it’s worthwhile checking. Once registered you will be compensated for any financial loss you suffer as an innocent victim of property fraud, giving you at least some financial peace of mind. As an addition to this you can also sign up to the property alert service, which will automatically notify you of any applications against your property i.e.  a change of ownership.

By being aware of the above, and being vigilant, you can hopefully be wiser and more aware of the potential downfalls of property fraud.

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