Mortgage fraud "explodes"

Land Registry tells Channel 4 News that the number of mortgage fraud claims doubled in one year,and analysts predict as many as 60,000 UK properties could have been acquired by fraudulent loans with a combined value of up to £17bn on lenders' books

The Land Registry says that in 2007-2008 it paid out almost £4m in compensation to lenders and defrauded homeowners, compared to just over £2m in 2006-7.

This Land Registry fraud is just one element in a worrying picture that is now emerging. Paul Doxey a Forensic Accountant, has told Channel 4 News that many as 60,000 properties in the UK could have been acquired with fraudulent loans. He says "there's been a complete explosion in mortgage fraud".

Managing Director, Disputes and Investigations, at Navigant Consulting, Mr Doxey has told the programme there's currently "probably over 7 billion pounds worth of fraudulent mortgages sitting on lenders' books. It could be much higher than that - as high as 17 billion pounds".

Mr Doxey says the key factor is ID theft: "In the 80s and 90s we saw a lot of property fraud, but what's different in the recent frauds is the explosion of ID fraud. It's now a lot easier for criminals to obtain false IDs through the black market, which they can use as a cover for these frauds".

Fraud Lawyer Gary Miller of Mischon de Reya Solicitors, who helps lenders track down fraudsters, has also told Channel 4 News: "My experience tells me that what we see is the tip of the iceberg", and claims this is not a current priority for the police saying: "Because of resource issues primarily, investigating and prosecuting property fraud has not been anywhere near high enough on the police agenda, and the reality, it is going to have to fall to the private sector if they're going to effectively combat property fraud".