Reverend Mike Hall had been in north Wales when he received a call from neighbours to say someone was in his Luton home – he then returned to find he was no longer the owner
A man who returned from work to find his house had been sold to a new owner has described his utter shock.
Reverend Mike Hall had been in north Wales when he received a call from neighbours to say someone was in his Luton home.
He drove back the following morning on August 21 to discover the keys had been changed and a builder was completing works inside.
The property had been stripped bare of everything, including carpets, furnishings and curtains.
Mr Hall phoned the police, and the builder left and returned with the new owner’s father, who said he had bought the terraced house in July.
He told Mr Hall: “It is now my property. You are now trespassing. Get out.”
It is unclear how long Mr Hall had been away from the property for.
Speaking of the moment he arrived home, he told the BBC : “I went to the front door, tried my key in the front door, it didn’t work and a man opened the front door to me.
“I pushed him [the builder] to one side and got in the property. I really didn’t know what he was doing there.”
The BBC You and Yours programme found a duplicate driving licence and bank account set up in the name of Mr Hall had been used to sell the house.
The house was sold to the new owner for £131,000.
Police initially told him it was not fraud but are now investigating, according to the BBC investigation. No arrests have been made.
Mr Hall said: “I was shocked – having seen the house in the state it was, I was in a bit of a state of shock anyway.
“But then to be told by the police they didn’t believe a criminal offence had been committed here was just unbelievable.”
Mr Hall says he has checked Land Registry documents and it shows the new buyer as the registered owner of his home, meaning they legally own the property.
The solicitors involved in the property transaction, which haven’t been named, told the BBC there was an ongoing police investigation which meant they couldn’t comment further.
The Land Registry paid out a total of £3.5million in compensation for property fraud last year.
It said: “We work with professional conveyancers, such as solicitors, and rely on them and the checks that they make to spot fraudulent attempts to impersonate property owners.
“Despite our efforts, every year we do register a very small number of fraudulent transactions.”
Detective Inspector James Day from Bedfordshire Police Serious Fraud Investigation Unit told The Mirror: “We were made aware of a report of identification fraud on 20 August 2021, which resulted in the fraudulent sale of a three-bedroom house in Luton.
“An investigation has been launched and we are currently following several lines of enquiry, whilst supporting the victim involved.
“We recognise the distress that incidents like this can cause victims and we have taken steps to improve our response to these types of incidents in Bedfordshire, including establishing our new Serious Fraud Investigation Unit in April of this year.”
Anyone with information can contact Bedfordshire Police online or call 101 quoting reference 40/47996/21.
HM Land Registry has a page online highlighting tips for home owners on how they can protect their property from fraud.
A spokesperson said: “There are steps owners can take to protect their properties against fraud, such as signing up for HM Land Registry’s free Property Alert service.”