A solicitor and his practice manager have both been jailed after deceiving a potential house buyer to part with £240,000 in a fake property sale.
Hashok Parmar and Syed Gous Ali, who both operated at now-closed Sterling Law Solicitors in Loughborough, attempted to sell London properties that were not on sale but rented out by the owners.
So-called property takeover fraud is carried out by people changing the property deeds or titles pretending to be the owner. The issue has become a major headache for law firms acting for clients who believe they are legitimately buying a property that in fact has never been on the market and is not for sale.
Parmar and Ali were both charged with conspiracy to commit frauds worth more than £3m and money laundering to the value of £240,000. They were both sentenced to six years’ imprisonment yesterday at Leicester Crown Court.
Leicestershire Police confirmed in a statement that in 2015 officers received a report from a solicitor’s firm on behalf of the client who believed he had purchased a house in London. The buyer never met the seller and fraudulent identification documents were provided to solicitors which confirmed the identity of the owners.
It later transpired that the sale was fraudulent and the property was never on sale – indeed the real owners did not know anything about what had occurred.
Investigators found that Ali, 46, had provided paperwork to confirm the identity of the sellers to the conveyancing solicitors. Following the transfer of £240,000, money was transferred to other accounts overseas and withdrawn in cash and paid into various accounts, including ones belonging to Ali and an account associated with Parmar. Attempts were made to sell two further properties in London in similar circumstances, but on one occasion the seller’s solicitor became suspicious and on the other inadequate identification documents were provided.
Ali, from Loughborough, pleaded guilty to four offences at a hearing in May 2019. Parmar, 63 and also from Loughborough, was found guilty of three of the four charges following a trial at Leicester Crown Court between February and March this year. Parmar, whose name no longer appears on the Find a Solicitor site, was suspended by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in 2017 on unrelated matters.
Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Matthew Swift, of the force’s economic crime unit, said: ‘We are pleased this investigation has subsequently led to both men being convicted for their crimes. It will hopefully go some way in reassuring the community that we can and will investigate such offences and bring those responsible to justice, and deter others from committing sophisticated frauds.'
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