Millions made by property fraud gang

Posted: 08/03/2012

Would you trust the following professional people; a solicitor, a bank manager and a Land Registry worker? Well, a group of these individuals including a drugs trafficker stole millions of pounds from properties by claiming they were theirs and selling them to unsuspecting civilians.

The group mostly targeted the elderly and the vulnerable that may have been moved into care or were left to deal with probate estates. Their master plan was to erect estate agency style signs outside a property with a name and number of a fake security firm, if there were no questions asked, the gang would then change the name on the title deeds and sold the property, profiting from the money exchanged.

One victim of the scam was a retired widow who had been granted probate of her late brother’s estate which included his house. When she went to the property, the locks had been changed and she was greeted by abuse from the new owner of the house. The name on the deeds had been changed from her brother’s name and replaced by someone else’s.

At least nine properties in south London worth a total of £3.8million were targeted but the police may find that more properties exchanged hands due to the gangs work.

One of the people behind this gang was a land Registry worker named Surjeet Chana aged 64 who had been working for the company for 33 years and was instrumental to the plot as she abused her position of trust to supply the title deeds and ownership signatures. In Chana’s £600,000 home, detectives found a stash of cash worth £38,000 in the loft. Another key member of the scheme was Charles Spiropoulos, 48, who worked for Andrews and Co Solicitors in Peckham London. He did the conveyancing for the properties knowing that they were fraudulent sales. The business manager who worked for Barclays in Purley helped the conspirators to launder the proceeds but he can not be named due to legal reasons.

A Land Registry spokesman confirmed that there will be compensation for the victims of the crime and advised the best way to avoid this type of scam is to speak with a solicitor who can arrange extra security measures on Land Registry documents for your home.

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

(1) Comments fraud, property, Land Registry, scam

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