Fraud investigators in UK issuing warning over empty property crime

Home owners in the UK are being warned that there are groups of criminals actively targeting empty properties which they use to apply for a mortgage or loan.

The scams are not new and the reason for the current spate is unclear but the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s Proactive Intelligence Team has issued a warning.

It has information showing criminal networks identifying empty properties by using names on published obituaries and carrying out research on the Land Registry.

Once a suitable property is discovered the criminal group then organise for fake documentation to be produced and register on the electoral role and with utility providers.

‘The group tirelessly work through the legal hurdles until the funds are released by the organisation, whilst the innocent party has no idea a crime has taken place,’ an NFIB spokesman said.

It highlights a number of situations when fraudsters can strike. These include buy to let landlords, owners living abroad, owners who don’t live in a property anymore and elderly people who may be in hospital or residential care.

Owners who are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage can alert the Land Registry’s Property Fraud Line on 0300 006 7030.

Home owners are also being urged to sign up for Land Registry’s free Property Alert service so they will receive a notification if someone tries to take out a mortgage on their home.