Angela Neale’s letter is a timely reminder that vigilance is key in everybody’s efforts to prevent property fraud.
Land Registry is committed to combating fraud and sharing our data and skills to assist law enforcement as part of our multi-agency approach which focuses on prevention, detection, protection and education. This means we work closely with other organisations including the police and regulatory bodies such as the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority to do all we can to reduce the opportunities for fraud and to identify and take corrective action when it has happened.
We have a specialist unit which reviews and oversees activities to counter fraud, and recently passed the landmark figure of property worth an estimated £50m saved by our fraud prevention measures. Our success has led to recognition of Land Registry’s counter-fraud capabilities, experience and expertise spreading throughout the counter-fraud community.
We have noted an increase in impersonation of the registered proprietor as a means of fraud and we are actively looking at the question of identity to ensure we can be confident that those involved in the transaction are the registered owners. We are also considering other measures which would improve the reporting of fraud to Land Registry. Earlier this year we launched a restriction aimed at owners who do not live at the registered property which has proved extremely popular with our customers.
The Land Register is open to public inspection to assist buying and selling of property and land. It helps combat fraud because it is transparent. We have had an open register since 1990. In many other EU countries and beyond, land registers have been open for much longer.
Alasdair Lewis, director of legal services, Land Registry