Record number claiming for property fraud, figures show

Property fraud has cost the UK Land Registry more than £70 million over the past 14 years, new figures have revealed.

The statistics, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, show that the average claimant received £107,669 per application.

Publishing the findings, financier ABC Finance said despite the industry’s best efforts to prevent property fraud, it is still running rampant across the UK.

According to the report, the Land Registry received double the number of fraud claims as it prevented since 2009, with just 279 instances of fraud prevented in the last decade.

Property fraud, also known as title fraud, involves criminals selling or renting property they do not own to unsuspecting victims or taking loans out against properties owned by other people.

Other types of property fraud also exist, such as ‘Friday Afternoon Fraud’ – where a fraudster tricks a homebuyer into depositing funds into a bank account other than their solicitor’s.

Commenting on the data, experts have recommended that homeowners use the Land Registry’s property alerts feature to prevent property fraud.

The feature, launched in 2016, allows people to sign up to receive fraud alerts and detect fraudulent activity on their property, for example, when a mortgage is taken out against it.

Explaining the feature, Alasdair Lewis, of the Land Registry, said: “Property is usually our most valuable asset so it’s important to protect it from the ever-increasing risk of fraud.

“Land Registry is doing all it can to detect and prevent fraud but no system can be 100 per cent fraud-proof, which is why we urge people to sign up for our property alert service.”

Click here to sign up to the property alerts service.

For help and advice on this matter, please get in touch with our expert team.