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How to steal a house in London

Discussion in 'General Property Chat' started by Graeme, 15th Dec, 2015.

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  1. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Max Hastings's wife had a Fulham investment property stolen via identity theft.

    The short version is:
    1. The fraudster rented the property.
    2. An accomplice then changed her name by deed poll to match the owner, Penelope Hastings.
    3. The fraudster then approached an agency, claiming to be working as a proxy for Mrs Hastings.
    4. The agency checked the false Mrs Hastings's ID using her new passport, and declared it to be kosher.
    5. The property sold, and the real Mrs Hastings only found out about it when the new owner discovered she'd been duped.
    OK, the house didn't actually get stolen, but £1.35 million ($2.8 million) did.
     
  2. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    And this is what $2.8 million "buys" you in London.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. JacM

    JacM VIC Buyer's Agent Business Member

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    Yikes. Another example of why it's always good to have some kind of mortgage against your property. The bank would have to have been notified and the owner would have gotten an alert that way.
     
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  4. mrdobalina

    mrdobalina Well-Known Member

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    Can't tell how much of that is facts, versus sensationalized reporting.

    Daily Mail. Almost as bad as The Sun.
     
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  5. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    Wow, what a simple way to grab a property and it would work in Australia too.

    Having a mortgage wouldn't really change anything because the real owner would only be notified at a later date. At settlement the loan would be paid out and the owner could later receive a statement in the mail. but the criminals could buy more time by going into the bank and changing the address for statements.

    Not sure how this could be prevented in Australia
     
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  6. JacM

    JacM VIC Buyer's Agent Business Member

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    If photo id from the time the mortgage was kept on file at the bank that would help in cases of attempting to release mortgage if the bank required a cross check of the person's face against the original id...
     
  7. cheekykoon

    cheekykoon Well-Known Member

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    it happened to australia before. I have seen the report a few months back the the email hacked and instructions sent out to a agent to sell the house.
     
  8. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    I don't think they cross check the photos. The crims could walk into a branch with their real passport and show it to the staff member to prove their identity and then have the address changed.

    One thing that can't be changed is the date of birth. But this is probably not looked at too closely when establishing identity at a branch.

    Land tile records also don't record dates of birth.
     
  9. Random Username

    Random Username Well-Known Member

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  10. Bullion Baron

    Bullion Baron Well-Known Member

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    Reading some of these stories is the reason I took title insurance with a recent purchase.
     
  11. BKRinvesting

    BKRinvesting Well-Known Member

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    I know LPI (NSW) maintain a fund to compensate displaced owners in situations just like this. In order to ensure that the Torrens Title register is always 100% correct, the new buyers, despite buying from a illegitimate owner, once on title, will own the home.
     
  12. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    What are the consequences of doing something like this?

    How do you get the house back?
     
  13. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    I actually came across the story via a posting at the FT Alphaville blog. Registration is required to view it, hence I posted the Daily Mail piece.

    Having seen how crazy the London property market is, I was amused by this comment at the FT:

    Astonishing - £1.3M for an unextended 3/4 bedroom terraced house off North End Road and presumably offered below market to get the cash buyer.

    It sounds like the house didn't actually transfer ownership, so the Hastings were ultimately protected by the Land Registry.

    I suspect that the buyer will have a very good case against Foxton's and her solicitors over the complete failure to perform due diligence to a satisfactory level. It probably won't help their professional reputation either, but it wasn't great to begin with.
     
  14. BKRinvesting

    BKRinvesting Well-Known Member

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    If the title is transferred,
    You don't.
     
  15. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    There was a couple of cases in Perth of this happening and there was a complete bunfight between new and old owners.
    To prevent it they bought in much more rigorous ID checks if you want to sell but it sounds like the London scheme would probably still work.
     
  16. Adele

    Adele Well-Known Member

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    Just curious. Can this happen if property is owned under Trust?
     
  17. Ouga

    Ouga Well-Known Member

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    "Trying is the first step towards failure" Homer
    What if a property had no mortgage and you held the title? Would that help at all?
    I guess the crook could claim it was lost and get a replacement one issued?
     
  18. Perthguy

    Perthguy Well-Known Member

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    Not sure about Western Australia. When I sold my last IP, I had to verify identity with the REA and my settlement agent in person - 100 points of ID with 1 primary document compulstory. I also had to sign a mortgage discharge document for my lender. A fake passport would be a start but I think there are additional hurdles after that. Depends on how good the theif is at forging a signature and how well the banks check the signature on the mortgage discharge form vs the file signature. If their signature checking is rigourous, the scam would be picked up at this point. If not, I don't think the more rigourous identity checks in WA would prevent this.

    In Vic, I had to provide birth certificate - compulsory. Not sure how easy that would be to fake.
     
  19. Perthguy

    Perthguy Well-Known Member

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    In WA, title is absolute. So if you can get the property into your name, you get to keep it. Of course you could be charged with fraud. The original owners would be compensated by the state. However, it could be a fight to get fair market value.

    This has happend in Perth before but that was just very sloppy work by a lazy REA and settlement agent. There were red flags everywhere and neither picked up on them:

    Both incidences appear to have begun with a Nigerian-based scammer contacting the property's real estate agent and changing the owner's contact details using fraudulent identification before then requesting an urgent sale to fund a petro-chemical project.

    The proceeds of the sale were sent to a Chinese bank account.
    Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/another-400-wa-home-sales-investigated-for-fraud-20110811-1ioa9.html#ixzz3uM8KioFV
     
  20. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    Trusts cannot own property because they are not legal persons. Only a trustee can own property and the same hurdles exist whether acting as trustee or not. In other words the trust makes not difference