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Grass up Arthur Daley types to FSA

If you haven’t seen the spoof sales pitch of a US broker on Videojug.com (www.videojug.com/ film/how-to-buy-a-home-with-no-money-down), I urge you to because it’s hilarious.

In the short film, an actor playing the role of an overzealous broker asks the viewer whether living on thin ice is their fantasy, before explaining how a 100% mortgage would not only enable them to buy their dream home but also give them the privilege of a “big, fat, awesome house payment” every month.

Like contemporary British comedies such as The Office, the clip is depressingly funny because it’s true.

We know that the mis-selling of sub-prime loans in the US was one cause of the credit crunch, the effects of which are still being felt on both sides of the Atlantic. But it appears that some UK brokers are just as guilty.

As revealed by Mortgage Strategy three weeks ago, the Financial Services Authority has investigated around 200 brokers for mortgage fraud and 30 cases involving six firms have been referred to the police.

The regulator has also banned Amjad Malik and Tahir Mahmood of Ilford-based brokers Abbaci Associates for submitting applications with false details.

This is not the first time the FSA has turned its gaze on brokers and it won’t be the last. And it is calling on lenders, solicitors, surveyors and brokers to grass up rogue firms and fraudulent activity.

I hope they respond. All too often the industry has run away from negative publicity, preferring to bury its head in the sand rather than face up to its ugly side.

OK, there’s nothing worse than smug commentators shaking their head at the wrongdoing of others while simultaneously stroking their halos. But exclaiming ‘nothing to see here’ every time a headline criticises brokers or lenders for the way they sell loans helps no-one.

A clean industry has nothing to hide but as long as there are firms offloading dodgy mortgages the press won’t need to look too far for headlines.

With all that in mind, surely it won’t be long before a UK version of sub-prime sales tactics does the rounds on the internet. An actor like George Cole, who played dodgy geezer Arthur Daley in Minder, would be ideal for the role.

But in the interests of authenticity, perhaps a real-life, dodgy sub-prime broker could provide a cameo. To avoid libel I’ll refrain from suggesting anyone here but I bet many of you have a name or two in mind.

And if you do, get in touch with the regulator. It may lead to bad headlines in the short term but cleaning up the industry is worth it.

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