Fewer fraudsters targeting industry

The number of fraudsters targeting the mortgage lending industry has sharply declined, the CIFAS UK Identity Fraud Index reveals.

The index, which is designed to show which business sectors are being worst hit by fraudsters and organised crime, is based on an average index figure of 100. A figure below 100 indicates that the sector is being targeted by fraudsters on a less-than-average basis.

In the mortgage lending sector the index for fraud based on false identity fell to 53 in 2003 from 69 in 2002. Over the same period the index for fraud based on impersonation fell to 61 from 85.

The worst affected business sector in 2003 was credit card issuers with indices of 177 for false identity-based fraud and 163 for impersonation in 2003.

However, CIFAS says high index figures do not indicate that a business sector is failing to prevent fraud. It estimates that around 90% of frauds based on false identity and impersonation were detected last year.

Neil Lewis, head of fraud services at Equifax – a member of CIFAS – says: “The decline could be due to a number of things but if you compare the mortgage industry with, say, the credit card sector, it&#39s more attractive for the fraudster to go for cards as they can run up sizeable bills. With a mortgage you don&#39t get cash – and the property could be repossessed.”

Jim Gillespie, principal of Hartlepool-based Independent Financial Services, says the decline in fraud is linked to stricter money laundering rules. He says: “There is now more emphasis on advisers and lenders being rigorous in looking out for acts of fraud. If we don&#39t do this we could go to jail.”

Paul Fincham, spokesman for Halifax, says: “It is fair to say that the UK lending industry is incredibly sophisticated in the methods it employs to tackle and prevent the incidence of fraud.”