Private landlords can access a dedicated anti-fraud line to combat a fraudulent sale or mortgage scam that has stopped 5,000 property hijacks in a year.
The Land Registry has set up a special property fraud unit to help owners who suspect they may be victims of financial crime.
The Land Registry has identified flats and houses vulnerable to fraudsters as empty properties, buy to let homes and those without mortgages.
Owners at high risk of fraud, they say, include owners who live out-of-town or overseas and those in long-term care. Relationship break-ups are also blamed for much property fraud.
Typical frauds start with a letting agent contacting a landlord or property owner telling them someone else seems to be letting or selling the home, or a relative discovers a home is taken over by a fraudster who has assumed the identity of the owner.
According to the Land Registry, anti-fraud measures have stopped around 5,000 property hijacks since January 2012.
Alasdair Lewis, Director of Legal Services said: “Fraud affects all parts of today’s society and everyone in it, costing this country an estimated £38 billion each year. Government has a zero tolerance to fraud against the public purse but in order to fight fraud, everyone needs to work together....
The need for everyone to play their part is just as relevant in the fight against property fraud as in other contexts.
“Our award-winning counter fraud unit works closely with the police and other agencies to reduce the risk of property fraud. Since September 2009, our measures have prevented fraud valued at £52 million but with an average indemnity pay out of some £150,000, fraud is still a fundamental risk to our business.”
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