xit2 has strongly marketed its services as a way of combating fraud - how bad is mortgage fraud in the UK at the moment?
It costs the mortgage industry around £1bn a year, so it‘s pretty bad. The Council of Mortgage Lenders issued a guide to reducing mortgage crime last year and the FSA has also recognised the problem. Our core service is data management to the surveying, conveyancing and asset management markets – and since we started trading we have never lost any data. We can apply this expertise to track fraudsters and significantly reduce risk from unscrupulous suppliers. The reason we concentrate on third party fraud is because it’s probably the most worrying type. It can be very difficult to trace and for that reason measures to tackle it after it’s happened are usually ineffective.
What’s the most imaginative technique you’ve heard of fraudsters using?
There are quite a few – often people that don’t exist, or people that do exist but are completely unaware of any mortgage application. Sometimes it’s even properties that don’t exist. The worst examples I can think of are probably when vulnerable people, often elderly, find their homes have been fraudulently mortgaged without their knowledge.
Will technology ever stamp out mortgage fraud completely?
The obvious answer is no, there is always a risk. But we believe that by properly knowing who you’re doing business with you can significantly reduce that risk. Companies have to ask themselves how much fraud is costing them. Often they don’t know. It can be harder to quantify this cost but it can be potentially devastating. We offer our clients a way to keep track of this risk using software to cut out the complexity. Our experience is that some level of fraud is inevitable – managing overall risk is the most important thing.
Which three people would you invite to a party?
1) Richard Branson was the first name to pop into my head when I first heard the question. I read his autobiography, and his passion, sense of humour and sheer determination to succeed was the reason. 2) Michael Jackson – to ask….what really happened? 3) Steve Williams (Tiger Woods caddy) – to ask… what he knew about the Tiger stories?
What super power would you want?
To broadcast one sentence to everyone’s brain in their respective languages stating “This is a test run, if you can hear this disregard it”. That should make an interesting week.
Do you have any secret talents?
I am good at predicting people’s reactions. As in, what they are going to say/do based on a situation, so I guess I am good at reading people. My 18 year old son is a professional golfer and I have to keep reminding him that I taught him everything he knows.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never put off something that you can do today. That is very true as tomorrow always brings new things to do.