Prevention is better than a cure: deceased identity fraud

This week a mother and daughter were released on bail after being found guilty of conspiring to commit fraud to the tune of £1.2 million.

The daughter rented a flat in London knowing that the landlady had recently passed away. Once she had access to the property she persuaded her mother to change her name by deed poll to that of the deceased owner. The mother was then able to apply for a new passport and other official documents in her new name and used them to fraudulently apply for a bridging loan on the property.   The loan was accepted and the pair quickly withdrew the funds. The only reason they were caught was after Land Registry alerted police to suspicious activity when the deceased lady’s estate came to sell the property.

This story demonstrates that deceased identity fraud is not difficult to carry out for the unscrupulous. In fact our recent research shows that deceased identity fraud is considered one of the easiest crimes to commit amongst offenders. Whilst this pair were apprehended many others are not and it is costing the UK millions in fraudulent payments or credit being issued to people that have passed away. For instance in Scotland £4.6 million of pension payments were made last year to the deceased.

To stop this organisations and public sector bodies can run all credit applications and payment data through a file that flags up any suspicious names and addresses that match someone that has passed away. This means that they are stopping the fraud at source rather than having to recover the funds once paid – and in the case of this story, the money has yet to have been recovered. The old adage that prevention is better than a cure has never been so true.