Property industry professionals have been urged to be extra vigilant after research found that there had been a 50% increase in mortgage and property transaction fraud in the past year.
Aziz Rahman, senior partner at corporate fraud defence specialists Rahman Ravelli, stressed that “the stakes are too high for those in property to simply plod on, oblivious to the risks” as an Experian study revealed that fraud is becoming more commonplace across the sector.
The research estimated that an average of £76,166 is lost in each example of mortgage or property transaction fraud.
With criminals coming up with increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud, Rahman has warned those who are involved in property deals – from estate agents and surveyors to mortgage brokers and developers – to look out for red flags.
He said: “These cases tend to involve huge sums of money and often the people who commit the crime are never apprehended. Unfortunately, other parties involved in the chain can have the finger of blame pointed at them, even if they’re innocent.
“Those placed under close scrutiny can suffer the kind of reputational and financial damage that is difficult to reverse. It’s imperative, therefore, that anybody involved in a mortgage or property transaction knows what to do if they are accused of wrongdoing.”
Fraud costs the UK economy more than £6,000 a second overall, with the annual loss coming in at around £193bn annually, according to a separate Experian study.
Mortgage and property cases account for around 6% of all recorded fraud and more than ten mortgage brokers are barred from the industry every year because of wrongdoing.
Rahman added: “With such vast sums of money involved, and with fraud cases being reported more frequently, it’s no surprise that the authorities are launching increasingly sophisticated and effective investigations.
“With the spotlight firmly on them, property professionals need to take it upon themselves to reduce their chances of being accused of fraud.”