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Written by Conor Shilling

Over 19,000 people have signed up to the Land Registry’s free Property Alert Service in its first year of operation, the organisation has announced. 
 
The service was introduced to provide owners with an early warning of possible suspicious activity on their property.
 
Tracey Salvin, Land Registry’s Property Alert Service Manager, said that the majority of people have no idea that someone could steal their home from under their nose but it can and does happen. 
 
She said: “For example, someone may pretend to be you using forged documents and sell or mortgage your home. While this is not common, when it does happen it can have devastating consequences for the victim. Imagine finding out that someone else has sold or mortgaged your property without your knowledge and disappeared with the money, leaving you to pick up the pieces. That is why we’ve introduced a number of anti-fraud measures at Land Registry.”
 
Land Registry says it has stopped fraud on properties worth more than £70 million since 2009 and that tenanted properties and empty properties are the most likely to be at risk from property fraud. 
 
Further information can be found at: www.gov.uk/propertyfraud.
 
The organisation has provided the following case study, highlighting how the property alert system works to identify fraudulent activity:
 
Ms Anderson (names have been changed) signed up for Land Registry’s Property Alert service and placed an alert on her property. She received an email alert the very next day saying that an application to transfer her property had been made. Ms Anderson knew nothing about this and contacted Land Registry’s property fraud reporting line.
 
On investigation, we found that the application had been made by Ms Anderson’s father and contained evidence claiming to show that Ms Anderson’s identity had been checked by a solicitor. Ms Anderson claimed she had never been to see this solicitor and denied signing any transfer of her property. She also alleged that her father was intercepting her mail and at one time had taken her passport.
 
When we contacted the solicitor concerned, he confirmed he had met someone claiming to be Ms Anderson but who, it turned out, must have been an imposter.
 
As a result of Ms Anderson contacting Land Registry, we formally notified Ms Anderson’s father of her objection to his application. As we didn’t receive any response from him, we cancelled his application. This allowed Ms Anderson to proceed with selling her property as she had planned to do.
 

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