Fraudsters who stole property owners’ identities face jail

Fraudsters who stole property owners’ identities face jail

A fraudster attempting to steal a £500,000 home by hijacking the owner’s identity through transfer of property deeds, faces jail.

He also attempted to defraud a couple of their £90,000 pension by stealing a couple’s details. Saeed Ghani, 30, along with co-defendants Atif Mahmood, 42 and Toma Ramanauskaite, 30, stole personal documentation from the owner of the Cheshire home – Minh To, 62 – from a postbox in 2012. Preston Crown Court heard that by using the details these letters contained, the pair intended to sell the half of a million-pound home.

The plot was only foiled when the daughter of Mr To alerted the police, having noticed the property being advertised on Rightmove.

Conspiring to obtain personal details, the trio had stolen letters from an insecure post box in 2012. The details within the mail were then used to hijack Mr To’s identity, in a bid to sell his property without his knowledge.

Ghani has been known to carry out similar scams, having used fraudulent passports to steal the identities of two Bolton homeowners, in an attempt to transfer Land Registry deeds, worth £300,000 property.

In 2014, and this time alongside Ramanauskaite, Ghani had stolen identities once again by intercepting a couple’s post in Boothstown, Salford. The pair opened new bank accounts under the couple’s name by using fake driving licences as identification.

After contacting the couple’s pension company, the pair successfully transferred almost £90,000.

Ghani has been jailed for seven years and six months, with Mahmood facing a 29-month sentence. Ramanauskaite will be sentenced next month.

Commenting on the verdict’s power to hopefully deter potential fraudsters, was Detective Sergeant Phil Larratt from Greater Manchester’s Police Fraud Team:

“In all three cases Ghani worked with an associate to hijack people’s identities by stealing their mail.

“Unfortunately in the final case, Ghani along with Ramanauskaite were again able to successfully hijack further identities to steal a couple’s pension.

“Today’s verdict will hopefully send out a message to fraudsters in Greater Manchester that people will receive significant sentences for these types of crimes.”

Detective Sergeant Larratt also highlighted how the case should indicate the risks the public are exposed to:

“As this case demonstrates, fraudsters can use your identity details to open new bank accounts, request new driving licences and even try and steal your own home. We urge the public to secure their mail boxes and employ measures to protect their identities.”

The popularity of property fraud has recently increased, with indemnity insurers paying out £100 million over just a sixth month period.

By taking advantage of the newly available technology, fraudsters are able to use advanced methods in order to trick buyers into transferring large sums of money into their accounts.

One scam involves interception of solicitor and buyer correspondence through hacking of email accounts. The fraudster would take on the role of the solicitor and request for a deposit to be transferred into another bank account. This can lead to thousands of pounds quickly disappearing without a trace.

As illustrated in this case, another common scam includes a fraudster posing as a tenant. By taking on their identity using stolen mail from the relevant address, they are then able to masquerade as the seller of a property and con potential buyers.

Land Registry states it has prevented more than £80 million of property fraud since September 2009. They encourage property owners to keep their address updated in order to be alerted should any suspicious activity occur. The Registry’s system will also let parties know if a property check is carried out on their home.

Georgia Owen

Georgia is the Content Executive and will be your primary contact when submitting your latest news. While studying for an LLB at the University of Liverpool, Georgia gained experience working within retail, as well as social media management. She later went on to work for a local newspaper, before starting at Today’s Conveyancer.

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