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Thieves using identity of dead homeowners in scams


New research has revealed that fraudsters are impersonating homeowners who have recently died, or solicitors, in the hope of stealing money in mortgage transactions.

The number of thieves using the identities of those who are deceased to make mortgage applications to lenders is increasing, Experian said.

More commonly, fraudsters are mimicking solicitors to trick buyers into putting a deposit in to the fraudsters account.

This money, which is usually large sums, is rarely refunded by the banks.

According to the City of London Police fraud investigators, the average loss to this fraud across England and Wales is £112,310.

The type of fraud in which a deposit is tricked out of buyer is more of a threat to those involved in a property purchase.

In property purchases, fraudsters are on the lookout for people who are buying or selling a home. They then intercept emails between those people and their solicitors.

The fraudster then sends an email claiming that the deposit is due and gives bank details for the money to be transferred. It quickly disappears from this account, leaving victims out of pocket.

The trade body for the industry, the Conveyancing Association, has launched a new scheme and guide which aims to reduce property buyers’ exposure to this kind of fraud.

Nick Mothershaw, fraud expert at Experian said:

“Because of the values involved, the impact on people's lives can be devastating.

"Large payments have been diverted and fraudsters have disappeared with the money. We'd urge anyone who has fallen victim to these kinds of scams to contact Action Fraud."

Suggestions from the Conveyancing Association include sending small test payments, or secure communication to allow buyers to cross-check bank account details.

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