HM Land Registry has said that it has no plans to stop accepting postal orders as payment for title transfer fees, despite revelations that the anonymous payment medium was used in a widely publicised title fraud.
The Daily Mail last week reported an account by homeowner Angela Ellis-Jones about the title to her London property being transferred in an attempted fraud apparently involving a solicitor. Ellis-Jones said when she contacted Land Registry about a ‘Completion of Registration’ notification she was told that an application to register the transfer was sent to Land Registry last year. The £80 transfer fee had been paid by postal order, which does not require the sender to prove their identify or share financial details. Notification of the application was sent to Ellis-Jones, but not by registered post.
Ellis-Jones said Land Registry had told her that a solicitor in south London had verified her identity in the transaction. The fraudster offered no address apart from Ellis-Jones’ home.
A Land Registry spokesperson told the Gazette it accepts fees by postal order because some customers do not have a bank account. Land Registry has no plans to stop this. Cash is also accepted, but only for applications made in person along with proof of identity at its customer information centres.
The spokesperson said that notifications by registered post had been stopped following ‘customer feedback’. However, owners are encouraged to have up to three addresses on the register, which could include email addresses, to ‘enhance’ their ability to receive Land Registry correspondence.
The spokesperson said Land Registry cannot comment on individual cases but ‘is doing all it can to minimise the risk of property fraud’.