Man arrested, accused of selling somebody else’s house without their knowledge

A man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud after the owner of a property in Luton told how he returned home to find it had been sold without his knowledge.

Reverend Mike Hall was working in north Wales when he received a call from his neighbours on 20 August to inform him that someone was staying at the house in Luton.

According to a BBC investigation, Hall’s identity was stolen and used to sell his house and bank the proceeds.

Bedfordshire Police said the man, from Bedford, was arrested on Friday at his home address on suspicion of fraud by false representation.

Hall told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours: “I went to the front door, tried my key in the front door, it didn’t work and a man opened the front door to me.”

The man at the property said he was doing building work and contacted the new owner’s father who said he had purchased the house in July.

Hall added: “We then tried to access the Land Registry documentation online to find out whose name appeared… and it is, in fact, as of 4 August, this man’s name.”

Det Insp James Day, head of the force’s serious fraud investigation unit, said: “This arrest marks significant progress in this investigation.

“I can only imagine the anxiety and stress the victim has had to endure in this unusual and sophisticated case.”

The Land Registry paid out a total of £3.5m in compensation for fraud last year.

 

Owner recalls shock of finding that his house had been sold without his knowledge

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7 Comments

  1. Rob Hailstone

    This kind of thing sadly happens more often than is realised:

    We had one like this too very recently. Same old story, unencumbered re-mortgage, the owner was a company director who lived abroad, and the property was tenanted. A bank account was opened fraudulently in the proprietor’s name. The property lawyers used an electronic ID check, they also obtained a passport, however the passport was false, all non-face to face communication. Major Lender, 3 – 11 – 2021

    Don’t forget that (HMLR) Property Alert is a free property monitoring service aimed at anyone who feels a registered property could be at risk from fraud; propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk

    [Comment edited as it breached posting rules]

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  2. AlwaysAnAgent

    Good result. You would imagine the paper trail would be easy to follow.

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  3. tim main

    So sad to see this sort of fraud it todays world.  @RLBA we are working hard to ensure Logbooks add to the sercurity of property.  @RobHailstone is so right, reflecting  @edmead ‘s comments on twitter last week.  Every one should make sure they have registered their own property interests with the HMLR FREE property alert and should be advising all clients to do the same.  It takes less than 5 minutes. twitter.com/PIP_Home/status/1455474539786276866

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  4. aSalesAgent

    I can only imagine the anxiety and stress the victim has had to endure in this unusual and sophisticated case.”

    Victims – plural. The buyer will probably see their new home returned to its rightful owner, leaving them potentially homeless. They also have invoices from their builder to pay (for work they carried out on the house that they will never benefit from), and the stress of trying to get back any or all of the money they paid for the house. They may also need to compensate Reverend Hall for any fittings and contents they disposed of and cannot reclaim.

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  5. But seriously...

     The property lawyers used an electronic ID check, they also obtained a passport, however the passport was false  Most online ID checking services can pick up fraudulent passports. Surely solicitors and conveyancing companies dealing with ‘arms length’ transactions with such significant sums at stake as house sales, should be subject to increased levels of due diligence with regard to identity checks…?

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    1. Rob Hailstone

      The pasport or driving licence might have been a Fraudulently Obtained Genuine document (FOG) and therefore undetectable:

      https://www.interpol.int/en/Crimes/Counterfeit-currency-and-security-documents/Identity-and-travel-document-fraud

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  6. AcornsRNuts

    What is interesting is that, until this was published in the newspapers, the police response was that it was a civil matter since the occupier was the owner registered at Land Registry.

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