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Property fraud increases in first five months of 2010

The Solicitors Regulation Authority says it has received 222 reports of suspected mortgage and property fraud in the five months to May 31, 2010.

The number of cases has risen steadily over the past three years, with 320, 350 and 411 cases reported in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. It also expects the numbers to increase this year.

The SRA Fraud & Confidential Intelligence Bureau warns, however, that the figures should not be seen as an exact volume of SRA investigations, as the figures are simply “tip offs” that it has received from bodies such as banks, building societies and the police, and says the figures could have been influenced by other factors. It also warns that there is a possibility the figures could contain duplicates.

A spokesman says: “The number of receipts may have been influenced by improved liaison with other agencies, and there is the possibility of more than one item about the same incident.”

In March the SRA slammed the CML after the trade body called for tighter regulation to combat solicitors’ involvement in mortgage fraud.

The CML said it did not believe the SRA’s principles based approach to regulation will address lenders’ concerns or restore confidence in conveyancing services provided by solicitors, and instead called for the SRA to undertake a comprehensive review of regulation of solicitors with the Government and the Legal Services Board.

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