Land Registry defends system after fraud trial

The Land Registry has reaffirmed that it has a robust anti-fraud strategy after a Dewsbury-based mortgage broker was able to defraud almost £1m from HBOS by altering registry records.

The fraudster, Rashid Farid, searched Land Registry records to target mortgage-free properties. Using false identification papers he transferred the title of these properties to a false name and then applied for mortgages.

Farid was convicted of conspiring to commit fraud by means of false representation, attempting to pervert the course of justice and money laundering.

The news will come as a blow to the Land Registry which earlier this month completed the first electronically-signed mortgage.

But Joe Timothy, director of legal services at the Land Registry, has defended its anti-fraud measures.

He says: “We have a robust anti-fraud strategy in place. We take the threat posed by fraudsters to our reputation and clients extremely seriously. For security reasons we cannot talk about specific measures but our strategy is continually under review.”

Farid employed his brother Jahangir and father Mohammed Farid along with four other defendants to launder the proceeds. All have been given custodial sentences, with terms ranging from two to three and a half years.

The Crown Prosecution Service and its counsel worked with a specialist team from the Metropolitan Police which uncovered the scam as part of a wider investigation into theft and money laundering.

Julian Briggs, prosecutor with the CPS, says: “When money was received from building societies it was dispersed through a series of bank accounts held in the names of various individuals or companies.

“Large amounts of cash were then transferred abroad. This money is believed to have been invested in property overseas.”

The CPS is pursuing the money from the fraud.

A spokeswoman for Halifax says: “We have cooperated throughout the investigation and trial.”