Tag Archives: fraud

Identity fraud and fraudulent tenants on the rise

March 21, 2012

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Research done by let insurance services has found that more and more landlords are being hit by fraudulent tenants.

In the first half of 2011 identity fraud attempts had doubled and 50,000 victims of impersonation was reported last year. That’s an astonishing 275 victims a day.

unfortunately identity fraud had been on the rise recently. Landlord and buy to let magazine have reported that due to the credit crunch more people are unable to retrieve credit in their name so they turn to ID theft to get a good credit rating and also get a bank account and credit cards.

The magazine have issued some tips to help reduce tenant fraud…

  • Obtain a credit check – Individuals with good credit histories are generally good tenants.
  • Obtain landlords and employment references. Don’t forget that some landlords just want to get rid of their problem tenants and will therefore give good references. Are the referees with aol/Hotmail/google accounts genuine? We recommend that you ask the applicant to provide further proof, for example copies of payslips or sight of bank statements if you have any doubts.
  • Make sure that your tenancy application forms are completed in full. If an applicant only completes part of it, they may be hiding something.
  • Don’t take everything at face value. Don’t believe anything that you are told and/or what is on the application. You will pick up a lot of information about the applicant when showing them the property. What kind of car does the prospective tenant drive?
  • Take time to compare addresses shown on the application with those shown on the ID documents. Ask for previous utility and telephone (including mobile phone) bills and statements, and check if the name and address and other information matches the information on the application form. If not, why not?
  • Use common sense and gut instinct; this can also be a valuable tool when deciding whether or not you want to rent to a prospective tenant.
  • Adopt procedures including a checklist for screening applicants before they go through the referencing process and train everyone involved on this. If a fraudulent applicant spots a weak spot in your processes they will use it.
  • Checklist to include obtaining ID documents and proof of current residency which you can file online on the Let Insurance Services referencing system.
  • Beware subletting when the tenants have moved in. Make sure that when you carry out your periodic property maintenance checks that the occupier is the same name on the tenancy agreement. There are horror stories of seemingly good tenants not moving in and subletting the property for profit.
  • Take out insurance for legal costs to evict the tenants.*

 

*Landlord & buy to let magazine

 

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A woman from Mitcham found guilty of fraudulent claims

March 20, 2012

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A woman who fraudulently claimed to be a tenant has been found guilty of 12 counts of housing benefit and council tax fraud.

Mrs Samina Ahmed, 53 from Mitcham, had scammed the council and claimed £104,663.75 over a period of 15 years.

Mrs Ahmed was sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty.

By using a false name (Mrs Choudry) she claimed benefits from Merton council by saying she was a tenant paying rent to a private landlord. counterfeit documents were created showing her false landlord and forged documents.

Mrs Ahmed was found out when a fraud investigation was being carried out on her family members. She was fully investigated when her address came up and she was examined.

In her investigation Merton council found that she was actually living in her husband’s house and had made false claims of paying rent to a private landlord.

Now Mrs Ahmed has been found guilty and is starting her sentence, Merton council will now try to recover money lost through the Ahmed family property.

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Council tenants face a prison sentence or a fine if they sub-let their homes

January 19, 2012

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"Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow"

A government’s proposal will now allow council tenants who sub-let their homes to be charged and face up to a two-year prison sentence.

Tenancy fraud will now be seen as an offence and if caught a possible fine of up to £50,000 may be issued.

Government officials have estimated that up to 160,000 council tenants sub-let their homes, this is now costing the taxpayer £5 billion a year.

The tenants that are sub-letting were said to be cheating the system and earning thousands by letting out their council homes at normal rental market rates, Grant Shapps, Housing Minister has commented.

At the moment sub-letting a council property is not an offence, the Government feel that local councils need more powers and are now allowing them better access to bank information and utility information.

Mr Shapps said: “Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow.

“It’s time for these swindlers to pay the price. It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country.

“Meanwhile tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds letting out their property, which was given to them in good faith and which could instead be offering a stable home to a family in need.”

He added: “The proposals I’ve announced today would not only deliver justice to these fraudsters but will also act as a deterrent to those who think they can earn a fast buck from this precious resource.

“I want everyone to know that our country’s social homes are going to those in genuine need, not providing a ‘nice little earner’ to someone who could afford to live elsewhere.”*

Government Ministers are putting out the proposals for consultation, they also want to make council tenants who earn £100,000 or more a year pay normal rental market rates.

The waiting list for social housing is always growing, at the moment around 1.8 million families in England and Wales are on the waiting list.

*Quote from BBC

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