New-build flats targeted by mortgage fraudsters

DATE: Jul, 7   COMMENTS: 0   AUTHOR: Allan Azarola

Owners of trendy new-build flats and expensive properties who have high status jobs are increasingly falling victim to mortgage fraud and identity theft, according to a study. Fraud is something that happens all over the world, not just in the UK. In the US for example, a person could go to a whistleblower lawyer to ‘blow the whistle’ on a company they believe are breaking federal laws.

People living in “city prosperity” now account for 10 per cent of all ID fraud in mortgages, compared with 7 per cent last year, research by Experian, the credit checking agency, found. In a number of cases fraudsters obtained personal details by stealing post and intercepting emails between borrowers and solicitors before diverting large payments.

Nick Mothershaw, fraud expert at Experian, told the Financial Times that fraudsters focus on trendy new-build flats as a way to gain easier access to an individual’s post. Once they get into the building they can steal the mail, which may contain new debit or credit cards posted to the address.

He said: “A fraudster’s ideal card or current account target would be a high net-wealth individual living in a poorly secured property with communal mailboxes.” Because of this, properties like apartments may want to use mailboxes approved by the post office, for example, as they will be secure and safe so that potential fraudsters like these are deterred.

“Postcode plays a key role here in that the properties being targeted are in the areas where high net-wealth individuals would live – new-build flats in London, for example.”

Experian’s research also found that current account fraud had more than doubled in the past two years. “Current accounts are a front door for fraudsters looking to access a wide range of other financial products, and clearly, fraudsters are going for the credit cards for quick access to funds,” Mr Mothershaw said.

“Fraud will continue to evolve as fraudsters seek the greatest benefits for the least risks. Understanding who among their customers is being targeted most and taking steps to make them more aware is also vital.”

The study, which analyses fraudulent applications for a host of financial products, also recorded an increase in credit card fraud during April, May and June this year. It found that 48 in every 10,000 applications were fraudulent.

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