Warnings about property fraud are regularly given out by the Land Registry as fraudsters continue to attempt to "sell" properties which they do not own.
In the case of Davisons Solicitors (a firm) v Nationwide Building Society  EWCA Civ 1626, a law firm had found itself caught up in a fraud and released mortgage advance monies to complete a transaction that simply did not exist.
The seller’s “solicitors”, although appearing to exist on the Law Society database of law firms, were actually fraudsters and were not a firm of solicitors at all.
The original ruling by the High Court was that Davisons Solicitors had not acted reasonably because it had failed to extract a formal written undertaking for the discharge of the “seller’s” charge over the property.
The Court of Appeal, however, overturned the High Court’s decision and ruled that Davisons Solicitors did carry out the correct legal procedures and acted reasonably when obtaining undertakings from the bogus firm.
When you are up against such sophisticated fraudsters it is best to be on your guard at all times in any property dealings and to carry out detailed due diligence, money laundering and individual checks. If anything feels suspicious then trust your instincts and ask more questions.
Property fraud is where fraudsters try to “steal” your property, most commonly by pretending to be you and selling or mortgaging your property without your knowledge. Since 2009, Land Registry has stopped fraud on properties worth more than £67 million.