https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2017/01/16/high-profile-case-shows-how-property-fraud-can-happen/

High-profile case shows how property fraud can happen

House on black target

The recent publicity surrounding the court case of Laylah De Cruz and her mother Diane Moorcroft highlights the importance of taking steps to protect your property from fraud.

On 16 January 2017, the mother and daughter were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud. They duped professionals into enabling a fraudulent application for a £1.2 million bridging loan on a house in Kensington, London. Diane Moorcroft impersonated the registered proprietor, who was not living at the property. When the application was made to Land Registry it was identified as fraudulent, the application was cancelled and the registered owner did not lose their property. Unfortunately, the loan company had already advanced the monies.

The property in question was attractive to fraudsters because it:

  • was rented out
  • had the property address as the only contact address for the owner
  • was mortgage-free
  • was of high value

Land Registry’s counter-fraud team have been able to identify the kinds of properties which are most vulnerable to fraud. They are ones which have the above characteristics as well as those which are empty or aren’t registered with Land Registry.

Since September 2009 we have prevented frauds on properties valued in excess of £92 million but no system can be 100 per cent fraud-proof which is why we urge people to do what they can to protect their properties from fraud.

How to protect yourself

To reduce the risk of fraud:

  • Make sure your property is registered. Find out how to register land
  • Make sure your contact details are up-to-date. You can have up to three addresses which can include an email address and an address abroad.
  • Sign up for our free Property Alert service. We will send an email alert when there is certain activity on a monitored property. You can judge whether the activity is suspicious and seek further advice if you are concerned
  • If you feel your property might be at risk of fraud, you can have a restriction entered. This is intended to stop certain applications unless a conveyancer or solicitor confirms the application was made by you. There is no fee if you do not live at the property. Request a restriction.

Think you may be a victim?

Contact our property fraud line on 0300 006 7030 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm) or email reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk.

Contact a legal professional such as a solicitor or Citizens Advice and Action Fraud (actionfraud.police.uk).

Update: On 17 March 2017 Laylah De Cruz was jailed for five years. Her mother, Diane Moorcroft, was jailed for three years - http://news.met.police.uk/news/mother-and-daughter-jailed-for-property-fraud-228701.

6 comments

  1. Comment by adamh posted on

    Simon - as you are aware your objection is currently being dealt with by the Property Chamber, Land Registration division, First-tier Tribunal and as such we cannot comment any further.
    The Police are responsible for investigating criminal matters and it is usually the alleged victim of a fraud who reports the claimed fraud to the Police.

    Reply
  2. Comment by NimishP posted on

    valli - you need to get legal advice. This is not the forum that can advise on specific case.

    Reply
  3. Comment by Simon Kadwill posted on

    The Police deal with property fraud by asking victims to report it to Action Fraud's call centre or report it online Action Fraud. Action fraud recommend victims of property fraudsters get a property solicitor to fight the fraudsters in a civil court. A fraud being committed by using a false application submitted to land registry to steal home is treated as a civil case.

    Reply
    • Replies to Simon Kadwill>

      Comment by adamh posted on

      Simon - there are some cases involving homes where criminal proceedings are pursued by the police in addition to any civil proceedings taken by the property owner. The De Cruz case to which the blog refers is one such case. The decision whether to pursue criminal proceedings in a particular case is made by the police and Crown Prosecution Service.

      Reply
      • Replies to adamh>

        Comment by Simon Kadwill posted on

        Thank you for your explanation. I saw on The Land Registry site also a very successful 5 year case when Land Registry spotted a fraudster working with a firm Willmett Solicitors that lead to many convictions and a solicitor was disbarred. So as I understand it both criminal and civil cases are being brought against fraudsters

        Reply
  4. Comment by adamh posted on

    Simon - HM Land Registry does not have the necessary powers to investigate or prosecute fraudsters. We assist the police and other bodies in identifying methods of property fraud, but prosecutions are a matter for law enforcement agencies.
    HMLR are unable to say how many criminal convictions for property theft have occurred. All instances of fraud are reported to Action Fraud, this question could be put to Action Fraud who may record this data.
    From our own data we can confirm that as at January 2016 the number of cases involving property fraud or allegations of property fraud in which HMLR was a party to civil proceedings was three

    Reply

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