A woman almost lost her home to a fraudster after discovering a Government department had granted lasting power of attorney of her affairs to a complete stranger.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, the homeowner learnt that a woman had fraudulently posed as her sister and forged documents that were then approved by the Office of the Public Guardian.
During the pandemic the homeowner left her property empty while she went to live with her mother. She was alerted to the fraud when the freeholder contacted her to say that someone had tried to sell her flat. Upon arriving home, she discovered that someone had broken in and changed the locks.
The fraudster presented the conveyancing firm dealing with the sale with a genuine lasting power of attorney document, showing she had the right to sell the flat, requesting that the £280,000 from the sale be paid into her bank account. The scammer also provided the solicitors with proof of ID, and two bank statements.
Fortunately, the conveyancing firm became suspicious, they then requested a doctor’s note from the scammer confirming that the homeowner did not have capacity, and when it was not forthcoming decided they did not want to act for the client and the sale did not go ahead.
When investigated, it was found that the lasting power of attorney document is completely genuine, but has multiple factual inaccuracies, fake names and the signatures appear as though they may have been written by the same person.
The Office of the Public Guardian investigates thousands of safeguarding cases every year, where individuals raise concerns that a lasting power of attorney is being misused or abused, but, it says, cases such as this are rare. On investigation by the BBC, it was discovered that the government body does not use any fraud detection systems to cross reference the identities on applications, and currently does not employ trained fraud investigators.
Getting an LPA arranged through a solicitor such as ourselves can prevent problems occurring later on, especially if you’re unsure of the process or your affairs are complex.
We can come to you, in the privacy and convenience of your own home, to discuss Wills, Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
We can explain why they are important and suggest ways that you can put steps in place to give you peace of mind for the future.
By drafting a Will, Lasting Powers of Attorney or setting up Trusts, not only will your wishes be carried out as you would like but you can also protect your family and friends from costly and stressful legal disputes. Please contact us on 01724 642 842 or by email on [email protected].