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Mortgage fraud up by nearly a third as rental scams also rise

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Mortgage fraud has gone up by around a third to 1,723 recorded cases, with rental fraud also on the rise, a report has found.

According to research from Apex Bridging, which collates offences recorded by Action Fraud and referrals to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there were 1.1 million cases of fraud overall between April 2022 and March 2023. This is around 15% higher than the same period last year.

Mortgage fraud, where criminals seek to steal money from a financial institutions or private lender through the mortgage process, has gone up by around a third compared to the same period last year to 1,723.

This is the second highest increase across banking and credit industry fraud, with the largest increase coming from application fraud excluding mortgages at 39%.

However, the report noted that the total number of identified cases made mortgage fraud the second-rarest form of banking and credit industry fraud, making up 0.2%t of banking and credit industry fraud.

Rental fraud rises

Rental fraud, where potential tenants are tricked into paying upfront fees to rent a property that often do not exist, has also grown to around 5,098 cases, equal to a 5% increase.

This is the third most frequent type of advance fee payment fraud, making up 11% of all cases.

Apex Bridging said that landlords, those who live overseas, have empty properties or unmortgaged property or unregistered property with the Land registry were most vulnerable to fraud.

It continued that it was vital to register title deeds with the Land Registry, the use of strong passwords to preserve sensitive data and being cautious using public or unfamiliar wi-fi.

The firm added the property professionals should be wary of clients showing signs of urgency without explanation, not wanting to offer information or answering basic questions.

Also, if the sellers of a property don’t live in the property, extra due diligence is needed of any changes to the client’s bank account during the buying or selling process.

Apex Bridging’s managing director, Chris Hodgkinson, said: “There is so much money involved with property that it’s difficult for career-criminals and chances alike to resist. Whether they’re stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds through mortgage fraud, or a few hundred quid through rental fraud, it’s rife and cases are on the rise.

“Property owners and professionals alike need to do all they can to mitigate the risk of property fraud. That means dealing only with respected and trustworthy organisations and service providers, and being awake to any red flags.”

He added: “Criminals often succeed because honest people lack caution and due diligence. Here at Apex Bridging we undertake vigorous ID checks to protect our business and our borrowers but everyone needs to play their part to make it as hard as humanly possible for these crooks to succeed.”