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Broker fraudsters could exploit Help to Buy – police

  • 25/10/2013
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Fraudulent brokers and solicitors could take advantage of the Help to Buy scheme if the mortgage industry fails to act, a senior police officer has warned.

City of London Police detective superintendent Oliver Shaw said mortgage fraud was “on my radar”, according to the Financial Times.

He continued: “We’ve seen fewer mortgage frauds recently because banks have been more careful about who they’re lending to but when Help to Buy goes live fully, that’s a huge vulnerability.

“We’re trying to change everyone’s mindset before it gets to the problem it was in 2009.”

Fraudulent brokers and solicitors were a particular worry, he added.

The City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau continues to monitor the sector carefully. The police force plans to provide more training for investigators based on lessons learnt during the previous spike in mortgage fraud. 

In September, the government brought forward the second stage of Help to Buy, the mortgage guarantee scheme. One participating lender, RBS, received 10,000 phone calls in four days about the scheme.

Earlier this month, Openwork’s financial crime officer called for more action on individual registration for brokers. This would help identify and exclude rogue brokers, he said.

Kings Group director Chris Bramham, who joined Openwork in calling for individual registration, said he thought lenders would be vigilant when checking Help to Buy applications.

However, he said fraud remained a threat: “The bigger concern would be the potential increase in mortgage applications with Help to Buy and the general market uplift. There is a need to ensure firms, brokers and lenders don’t drop their guard when dealing with the pressure points of larger volume.”

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