What has happened
There is a potential new fraudulent trend that may impact some aspects of the property industry.
Some fraudsters are now trying to exploit the highly competitive property sales market.
Some are exploring basic level training or certification to work as estate agents and in some cases considering opening up small satellite offices.
If established, the fraudsters aim is to act as an agent for a new large scale development of flats in an area where demand is high. Through the use of high pressure sales tactics, the criminal will inform the buyers that this is the last property remaining and to act immediately to avoid disappointment of missing out.
The buyers will be instructed to pay a holding deposit to take the property off the market. The deposits are paid directly into the criminal’s account and transferred out immediately.
In order for the fraudsters to be most effective they plan this type of fraud in one big hit over a short space of time thereby maximising the proceeds of crime.
What you should do
If you are contacted you should check out the company first. Check to see how long they have been in business and check that it has a proper street address and landline telephone number.
If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Owners who are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage can quickly alert the Land and Property Services and speak to specially trained staff for practical guidance about what to do next by calling the Customer Information Unit on 0300 200 7803.
The line is open from 9am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm Friday.
- Do not be pressurised into transferring large sums of money.
- Be sceptical if you’re asked to transfer any money via a money transfer service.
- Consider seeking advice from other local estate agents to see if they are also advertising properties in the same building.
- Seek advice from a reputable solicitor before paying a deposit.
- If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.