August 31, 2007
Firstly, Detective Shaw highlighted that the investigation is not just limited to London, but part of a UK wide program, being run by the Serious Fraud Office. He explained that the police led review will ascertain the fraud geographic hotspots and will also investigate agents, valuers and mortgage brokers. The police are also working closely with the FSA and other government bodies, which hold data on dubious finance brokers and companies which have been prosecuted or struck off their registrar.
So far, the investigation has revealed no complicity from lending institutions. In the past, some bank employees have been known to either sell institutional data to criminals, or to overlook due diligence procedures, presumably for an 'under the table' reward. So far the investigation has highlighted no such activity, focusing mainly on exaggerated mortgage valuations and fraudulent ID documents.
The investigation is likely to conclude 'around Christmas' after which further action will take place. The police are intent on minimizing the problems and putting mechanisms in place to prevent future exploitations. They are also looking to identify the most successful criminal gangs and prosecute them.
Detective Shaw acknowledged that the police are 'well aware' of the economic dangers of potentially flooding an already cooling market with property that were obtained fraudulently. In the early 90's property recession, a similar problem occurred and the property crash forced banks to review their loan books after defaults and repossessions.
When the banks remarketed repossessed properties they achieved prices way under valuations which were originally suggested when the loan was processed. In today's cooling market, the same problem is likely to occur and the banks are currently doing everything they can and looking at every angle in order to mitigate their losses.
August 30, 2007
Fake P60 forms, used to illustrate earnings, are widely available online. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) yesterday confirmed that lenders face serious risks from fake documentation rackets ... Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Shaw, of the City of London fraud squad, said: “We have identified criminal networks that have obtained very large commercial and residential portfolios by working with corrupt valuers and solicitors. ... James Cotton, from London & Country, a broker, said yesterday that lenders also faced risks from self-certification mortgages: “We have seen the impact of people lying in America. It is the same here. It’s just difficult to know the extent to which borrowers have lied about their income because the point of self-certification deals is that lenders don’t check.”So far, City Police have released no details on the extent of the alleged fraud, or names of companies or individuals who are being investigated or arrested.
The first stage of the police investigation - establishing the lenders’ potential liability over defaults from fraudulent loans - is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
May 28, 2007
Social blogger Rachel from North London (pictured) is the victim of blogstalker Felicity J Lowde.
Lowde was found guilty of harassment recently, but is on the run and blogging a strange rant/defense over here.
Rachel is a heroic 7/7 bomb survivor, and set up her blog to help other victims of the tragedy, yet Felicity J Lowde has the audacity to accuse her of "deserting the dead".
The story gets weirder as one of the most popular estate agents in London almost goes by the same name as the apparent Ms Lowde(Felicity J. Lord),
which leaves me wondering that perhaps the reason the police can't catch up with Ms. Lowde is because she's using a pseudonym. Nevertheless, can all this negative publicity be good for Felicity J Lord?
UPDATE: May 25, 2007; Lowde captured and in custody
March 30, 2007
More from The Times
February 14, 2007
This afternoon, Nationwide issued the following statement in response to the fine:
The FSA has today announced that it has imposed a fine on Nationwide as a result of an investigation following the theft of a laptop computer from an employee's home in August last year.
Philip Williamson, Nationwide's chief executive, said: "We have extensive security procedures in place, but in this isolated incident our systems of control were found wanting. We have made changes to fill the gap and improve our procedures further.
"Towards the end of last year I sent a letter to every one of our members telling them about this matter and apologising for any concern it may have caused them. I would like to reiterate that apology to our members and assure them that we have taken action to tighten our already high security procedures.
"To set people's minds at rest I wish to emphasise that there has been no loss of money from our customers' accounts as a result of this incident. Our customers have the additional assurance that they are protected by the Society's customer promise that 'If you are the innocent victim of fraud, you will not lose out.'"
* The laptop was stolen in a domestic burglary from an employee's home, in August of last year
* We and the police believe it was stolen for its intrinsic value as a laptop, rather than for the information it contained
* The laptop was security protected and the information on it, which was to be used for marketing purposes, cannot be used on its own to commit identity fraud
* There were no PINs, passwords, account balance information or memorable data relating to any customers
The police, the FSA and the Information Commissioner were informed of the theft at the time and Nationwide has been co-operating with them since.
Nationwide welcomes the fact that the FSA acknowledges that the Society has:
* Taken a range of additional measures to increase security around accounts
* Informed customers of the loss of the information
* Affirmed its existing policy of reimbursing customers who are innocent victims of fraud
* Commissioned a comprehensive review of information security procedures and controls
February 5, 2007
A letter bomb has exploded at the London HQ of congestion charge firm Capita. A female employee at the office in Victoria Street was slightly injured - she is understood to have opened the envelope.
Victoria Street has been sealed off from Westminster Abbey to just beyond Scotland Yard, with an inner cordon preventing members of the public accessing the building where the incident took place.
All six floors of the office were evacuated.
Capita manages a number of high-profile government IT services including the London congestion charge, the Criminal Records Bureau and revenue collection from TV licensing.
In March last year Rod Aldridge quit as chairman after claims he donated £1m to Labour resulting in the firm receiving Government contracts.
December 13, 2006
October 11, 2006
Meanwhile the hunt is on for 3 Pakistani developers who are reportedly hiding out in the UK. Interpol has issued warrants for Ramzan Khokhar, his wife Kahkashan Khokhar and Abdul Hafiz Sheikh.
The Khokhar's owned the Margalla Towers in Islamabad believed to contain up to sixty apartments and collapsed in the earthquake, killing hundreds. Nearly fifty people were rescued from the towers and local authorities are holding the 3 named individuals responsible with the faulty construction they claim caused the towers to collapse. Abdul Sheikh was the architect.
October 4, 2006
September 14, 2006
Real estate businessman G. Krishnam Raju, (67) came out of his house in Rao and Raju Colony at around 6 a.m along with his pet dog. He barely walked a few metres when three persons jumped out of a white car and forced him into the vehicle.
A pair of shoe sworn by the victim were found at the spot. [details]
CORRECTION: Rs. 1 crore ~= US$216,748
September 8, 2006
Mattes was investigating a husband and wife team who it is alleged bought up to 20 properties in other peoples names and then rented them out.
Mattes suffered "cracked ribs", "bites" and bruises as a result of the attack. The couple was arrested, charged with assault and other crimes.
September 5, 2006
Reviczky, who hasn't seen a cent of the proceeds, is more interested in recovering his home than the profits from its sale. However, Ontario law recognises a purchase as valid in cases, like this, where a purchaser is not in on a scam. Reviczky's situation has several local precedents. Widow Susan Lawrence faces the loss of a home she's lived in for 30 years after crooks used publically available information to pose as her and sell her home out from under her feet.In another case, an actress lost her home to ID thieves who sold her property to an accomplice, who disappeared after securing a bogus $250,000 mortgage in her name.
[full story via Fark]
August 22, 2006
Oliver Hooper, 35, said little as the judge gave him a sentence that will keep him in prison until he is at least 85 years old.
I want to keep you off the streets as long as I can. I don't want you to harm anyone else, Judge Peter Fauver told Hooper in the Strafford Country Superior Court.
Police alleged that Hooper, a traveling salesman from Gorham, Maine, tried to lure up to 10 female real estate agents from northeastern Massachusetts and the New Hampshire seacoast into vacant buildings under the guise of buying a home. Most rebuffed his requests.
However on July 26, 2005, police alleged that a 19-year-old in Dover, N.H., agreed to show Hooper her parents home. Hooper, police said, raped the girl at knifepoint.
The victim who was not identified because she is a rape victim, addressed the court before the sentencing:
"I will never be free of the damage that he has caused me he did not kill me, but he broke my spirit and my soul."
Hooper declined an opportunity to speak to the judge or the victim.
July 24, 2006
UPDATE: Muñoz charges dropped
July 21, 2006
Leader of a Red Cross rescue team at the scene, Mr Ige Iseoluwa, confirmed that about 37 corpses have been recorded while several others are on danger list at various hospitals in the area. When Daily Champion visited the scene on Bola Street escavators from construction firm of Julius Berger were seen busy digging up the debris in the effort to rescue more persons while other persons tore through the debris with bare hands helping in the search and rescue effort.
Also a team of policemen and members of the Civil Defence Corps were on hand to help out in the search even as the building was said to have caved in late Tuesday night as people retreated from a long day.
But Governor Tinubu, who arrived the scene in the early morning hours, wearing a mournful look, vowed that developers of the property must be prosecuted for a shoddy job which caused the death of residents, warning that it was high time in evidence of building collapse in the state stopped.
"We shall prosecute the developers. We know their other buildings and definitely, they will not go unpunished," he said just as residents have begun a manhunt for the developer identified only as Lakuns Investment Nigeria Limited.
July 10, 2006
(AP) — A four-story building on Manhattan's East Side went up in flames and collapsed Monday after what witnesses said was a thunderous explosion that rocked the upscale neighborhood. The cause was not immediately known, but the White House said there was no indication of terrorism. Authorities said two civilians were transported to New York Hospital, and one firefighter suffered neck and back injuries and was taken to a hospital. Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said firefighters were digging someone out of the rubble and that they were talking to the person. source
UPDATE (via Observer)
At 7:30 a.m. on July 10, 66-year-old cardiologist Nicholas Bartha sent a puzzling e-mail to scads of prominent New Yorkers, which began with stories from his childhood in Transylvania and evolved into a rant against political correctness, his co-workers, judges, and especially his ex-wife, to whom he directed the following: An hour later, the building of which he was the sole occupant, at 34 East 62nd Street, melted in a fireball. Download the whole e-mail in PDF format here.
When you read this lines your life will change forever. You will be transformed from gold digger to ash and rubbish digger. You always wanted me to sell the house I always told you "I will leave the house only if I am dead " You ridiculed me. You should have taken it seriously.
An hour later, the building of which he was the sole occupant, at 34 East 62nd Street, melted in a fireball.
Download the whole e-mail in PDF format here.
July 3, 2006
On 21st June searches took place at 17 addresses. 4 were the business premises of solicitors, 3 were mortgage brokers and 1 was a firm of accountants, the other premises were all residential. The searches related to the joint investigation between the SFO and the West Midlands Police in regard to a complaint made by the Cheshire Building Society. The addresses searched were in London, Manchester, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire and assistance was provided by officers from the City of London, Greater Manchester, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire forces. One man was arrested and interviewed in regard to the allegation and later released on bail.
June 29, 2006
April 27, 2006
The revelations come after former first-class architect Hidetsugu Aneha,[pictured], under fire for falsifying quake-resistance data was arrested Wednesday for lending his name to a construction company that employs no licensed architects. In return, Aneha is suspected of receiving millions of yen.