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Scottish police in crackdown on mortgage fraud gangs

  • 31/07/2012
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Scottish police in crackdown on mortgage fraud gangs
The Scottish police and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) plan to add a layer of anti-fraud checks to mortgage applications in a crackdown on money laundering mortgage fraudsters.

They have proposed a fee which will be placed on top of every new mortgage application to help prevent organised crime abusing the system, the Scottish Herald has reported.

It added that HMRC is also checking that income claims are accurate and in line with tax payments.

Detective chief superintendent John Cuddihy, head of serious organised crime and counter terrorism with Strathclyde Police said that a number of criminals are buying properties with false details then selling them for inflated prices.

He said that the police plan to team up with lenders to root out fraudulent mortgage claims. 

“Crime groups can operate 200 mortgages. If it were you or I we would struggle to get a second mortgage, but they manage to get 200. They are then able to move other serious organised crime families into those houses,” he said. 

“The equity or value of the house this year may be £100,000. Next year they will push it on to another organised crime family and overvalue it at £120,000. If you multiply it by 200 you can see how they’re making their money.”

Cuddihy added: “We are asking honest, hard-working people to be aware that a small routine fee could stamp out multiple mortgage applications by serious organised gang members.”

The police are looking to push due diligence further within financial institutions to ensure they are only engaging with fit and proper people.

“We’re bringing in the banks and building societies to discuss this. We have also put this forward to the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce (SOCA),” added Cuddihy.

In September last year, the Mortgage Verification Scheme launched in the UK, enabling lenders to check details of borrowers they suspect of fraud through HM Revenue & Customs.

The scheme has been developed together by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies Association and HMRC and aims to reduce the cost of mortgage fraud, estimated by the National Fraud Authority to be at £1bn in 2011.




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