Wake up and smell the fraud

The Strategy Summit, Mortgage Strategy’s annual event for the leading lights of the industry, was held on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Despite the relaxed surroundings – it was at the plush Luton Hoo hotel in Hertfordshire – it was two days of non-stop discussion and talks on the state of the market. Topics ranged from the directionless nature of housing policy and how Basel III will impact the UK, to how to take advantage of the gender neutral pricing changes set to hit insurers.

But top of the bill was the talk on fraud from John Malone, executive chairman of PMS. For all of you who thought this was an area that didn’t involve you or was something cooked up by the Financial Services Authority and lenders to get rid of brokers, think again.

Malone, in addition to his role at PMS, has been the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries’ linkman when it comes to working with the National Fraud Authority’s Mortgage Fraud Forum. He described to the audience countless examples of brokers and firms that had become victims of fraudsters.

The strategies crooks are employing to hook brokers are not new, but Malone’s message was simple – the industry needs to wake up to them. Long gone are the days you could assume that every client you see is bona fide or that the intentions of introducers you deal with are benign.

Rising property prices covered up a multitude of sins in the boom, which meant lenders and the authorities turned a blind eye. But they are now taking an active approach to policing brokers they perceive to have stepped out of line. So make sure you and your business don’t become victims.