Archive for March, 2012
Last year s figures show that mortgage fraud has increased by 77% on the same period in 2010, a staggering rise, so is it as widespread as the figures suggest?
The figures, which come from Experian, the credit agency, claim that 49 in every 10,000 mortgage applications were fraudulent in the third quarter of last year, 55% up on the second quarter and 77% up on the same period in 2010. It seems that many of these arise from individuals who have misrepresented their financial situation to try and buy property that would ordinarily be out of their reach.
Any lies that are put onto an application form in this way constitute mortgage fraud, so it is any situation where there is an intent to materially misrepresent or omit information on an application to obtain a loan or to get a loan bigger than would have been the case if the lender had known the full truth.
Though the most severe cases, where millions of pounds are involved, will result in custodial sentences, in offences of the type already described, where there is perhaps an exaggeration on an application form, it may not result in a charge and obviously not a prison sentence, though it is still a serious offence and will harm that person s ability to secure a mortgage in the future.
We d like to hear from anyone working in this area or who has perhaps been affected by mortgage fraud in some way. We look forward to hearing from you.
Trawling through the local papers revealed a story from the other side of the Pennines in which a magistrate was sentenced after being convicted of a 360,000 fraud.
The fraud was committed by Shanaz Hussain during a divorce in which she forged her husband s signature on some important documents which secured the transfer of the matrimonial home from his name into hers.
The jury at Preston Crown Court found Hussain guilty of seven offences of fraud and she was sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and 300 hours community service. Judge Christopher Cornwall said that Hussain had acted wholly uncharacteristically in carrying out the offences and that she had behaved in the way she had, mainly because of the acrimonious divorce following a 20-year marriage.
As well as forging her former husband s signature on a financial declaration and Land Registry documents, she also forged the signature of a Blackburn solicitor as a witness. Hussain had served as a magistrate on the Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale bench for six years.
The recent Harry Redknapp case has thrown up the periodical discussion point of whether fraud is too complex an area of law for a jury to fully understand.
Possibly in the case of the Spurs manager it may not have been quite so taxing, because he is a well-known character and the press coverage was so intense, so losing interest may not have been an issue, but could it be in those cases where the defendant is not so well known and his financial affairs are so complex? Maybe so, but it is worth remembering that the prosecution do have some weapons in their armoury to try and ensure that the jury members stay with them through to the end of the trial.
They provide the jury with ample time to adequately explore the issues involved, perhaps including clear, graphic evidence and HMRC now have more sophisticated charts and graphs which help make the complex issues appear more manageable.
Also, perhaps the notion that it is too complex a subject is insulting to most jurors who, whatever their intellectual capabilities, tend to apply themselves to the job in hand to ultimately deliver a verdict they can be satisfied with.
The last month or so have seen stories of individual jurors calling in sick when they weren’t, researching a defendant on the internet or refusing to go back because a case was boring . However, I believe these are isolated cases and most jurors are dedicated and work hard to try and deliver justice. Is that your experience too? Let me know, I d like to hear from you.
It appears that fraud is up throughout the country with KPMG‘s Fraud Barometer, which has looked at all fraud cases since 1987, saying that last year saw the highest ever amount of fraud recorded in the UK.
The total amount for 2011 was calculated at over 3.5bn with one rogue trader case which was not identified, worth 1.3bn and KPMG said that the year had been an extraordinary one for fraudsters with the economic downturn acting, in some cases, as a catalyst for more fraud to be perpetrated.
The findings tally with another report, this time published by the UK s Fraud Prevention Service, which reported a 9% rise in overall fraud last year, with identity fraud rising by 10% while there was a 13% increase in the fraud of an account or financial policy which had been lawfully obtained but was then used without the owner s permission.
The Serious Fraud Office said that it was prosecuting more cases that involved increasingly more defendants. Do you have any experience of fraud and do you also believe it is increasing in occurrence? We d like to hear from you.