Property Fraud: The need to go beyond regulation compliance

Property Fraud
Kensington Gate, London © Rossographer

Fraud is growing at an alarming rate. And, in the property sector there has been an increase in identity theft during mortgage and high value property transactions.

Identity thieves will hack databases, intercept emails between estate agents, their customers and solicitors, in a bid to divert large sums of cash.

A high profile case of property fraud to hit the media was Max Hastings, Author and former Daily Telegraph columnist, who received a great deal of press coverage when he became a victim  of property fraud in December 2015, as his wife’s house in Fulham, West London, became the subject of a house sale scam.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Hastings explained how his wife almost lost her investment property, when identity thieves used a scam to steal the property, while an unsuspecting purchaser lost £1.35m. [Source]

As an estate or letting agent, there is an increasing need to go beyond the required regulatory checks, and a real growing need that you perform extensive due diligence on all parties involved in every transaction.

Here at Contego, we are on a mission to combat fraud and in the property sector we provide our clients with the best practice fraud reduction and due diligence solution on the market.

We do this by providing real-time, automated checks on People, Companies and Identity Documents, combined with one of the largest databases of screening information.

Some of the UK’s largest property firms rely on us to mitigate fraud risk when onboarding their customers. We help them ensure they not only comply with current Money Laundering and Right to Rent regulations, but we importantly help them go beyond this and help them consider increasing and new emerging threats.

An example of this would be that only house vendors are subject to Money Laundering regulation, but not house buyers. However, we at Contego strongly recommend to all our clients to do money laundering checks on buyers and sellers to reduce their business risk. The Hastings case proved the importance of this.

Contego also has one of the UK’s largest databases of screening information available, and we can deliver detailed reports on tenants, landlords, buyers and sellers – in real-time. Helping both the sales and letting side of your business.

Contego’s breadth of data coverage and accuracy will enable you to make fast and informed business decisions based on actionable data, thereby helping you comply with regulation.

Property scams can lead to individuals having their houses stolen from beneath their feet, bankruptcy, damaged credit ratings and crippling solicitor’s fees. Not only can it be devastating for individual’s livelihoods, but it can do irreversible damage to your company reputation.

The property market is highly competitive and it is important that you protect, and indeed enhance, your brand reputation and in so doing deliver your customers peace of mind.

With the increase in fraudulent activity, you can expect ever greater regulatory scrutiny on the property sector in 2017. Regulators have already started to conduct proactive investigations, and are not only checking that organisations are fully compliant with regulations but that they are deploying best practice in due diligence processes. Those who can’t will be levied with large fines that in turn can have a real and negative impact on their brand reputation.

If you want to ensure you are doing the maximum possible today to reduce your risk, keep the regulators at bay and be ready to tackle increasing fraud threats watch the latest video, then get in touch today by calling +44 (0) 1235 375 000 or book an online demo today.