Property scam: Tenant changed name by deed poll to landlord’s and sold house through agent

A taxation and accountancy firm has warned of a fraud of over £400,000.

Its online blog says: “The individual in question owned a property which he rented out to tenants over a long period of time.

“One of the tenants changed his name by deed poll to that of the landlord and applied for new identification under the new name.

“Following this, the tenant approached an estate agent to see the property. After passing all the checks, he appointed a solicitor to complete the sale at over £400,000.

“Since the estate agent and solicitor had completed all the identification checks, the property owner has been informed that he is unlikely to get any of his money back.

“The matter is currently with the police.”

Kate Williams, of Welsh tax and accountancy firm Green and Co, said the warning had originally come from a local bank.

She said: “This is a terrifying story, and we urge any landlords to use the Property Alert service provided by HM Land Registry to notify you of any activity on the property.”

It may also be possible for the rightful owner to get the Land Registry to re-register the property to them, in which case the real loser is the unwitting purchaser.

https://blog.greenandco.com/

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8 Comments

  1. Rob Hailstone

    Is this a new case or an historic one?

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  2. El Burro

    Maybe it’s time the ‘deed poll’ procedure was brought into the 21st Century to recognise property theft?

    A start would be AMLRs level of due diligence with a Land Reg search?

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  3. GeorgeHammond78

    Or just make it best practice for solicitors to advise their landlord client to ensure when registering the title not to use the property address as that of the new owner! Solicitors need to take some of the blame here.

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  4. Michael

    This is a childishly simple fraud, but not so easy to untangle. It should not take very long for the Courts to bring the fraudster to book & try to compensate buyer & genuine owner, but it is messy.

    It would have helped had the (electronic?) ID check listed the fraudster’s previous names and date of change to landlord’s name so that could be compared against the (much earlier) date when Land Reg would have registered in the genuine owner’s name.

    It seems crazy that it is so easy to change your name by deed poll to something presumably quite different from the fraudster’s original name.

    Time to improve the ID check process and detail?

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  5. drasperger

    Am I missing something here……….?  Surely “stolen goods” can be confiscated by the police and returned to their rightful owner?

     

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    1. Nix

      If the fraudster has left the country and/or again changed his/her name by deed poll … the unwitting buyers will be the ones likely homeless and ultimately out of pocket.  Equally, even if the perpetrator hasn’t covered his/her tracks, but already disposed of the proceeds, a slap-on-the-wrist prison term won’t assist matters.  I hope there is some insurance (let alone, trauma therapy) in place to help the Landlord, and, more particularly, the blameless buyers.  Another example of how some safety net could be applied for these rare, but possibly devastating, events.

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  6. KemptownAgent

    Considering photo ID checks are done by estate agents and the solicitors…Why is a photo ID not recorded with Land Registry that checks up with who bought the property/who is selling the property? – Very simple solution, set a requirement to update it every 8 years, problem is very unlikely to happen again. Can someone at LR hire someone with forward thinking ideas instead of Muriel who’s caused this 3+ months backlog…

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  7. RosBeck73

    The link is very helpful. I have just gone straight on there and set up alerts. However, they only permit 10 properties to be protected. Any ideas on how to get more covered?

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