Man had £500,000 home put up for sale by fraudsters

Minh To is calling for a change in the law

Man had house put up for sale by fraudsters

A dad who had his £500,000 home secretly put on the market by identity fraudsters is campaigning for a change in the law.

Father-of-one, Minh To, 63, only discovered his five-bedroom home had been put up for sale when his daughter spotted it on listings site Rightmove.

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Minh's estate agent daughter Fiona To, 23, discovered the home for sale in November 2012, and asked her confused dad, who lives in Stockport, why he was moving house.

Retired Minh contacted police, who discovered Saeed Ghani, 30, and Atif Mahmood, 42, had stolen his mail then forged his signature to put the house up for sale, inviting bids starting at £300,000.

The pair were jailed at Preston Crown Court on October 25 this year after admitting conspiracy to defraud.

Man had house put up for sale by fraudsters

Ghani, 30, of Prestwich, was jailed for seven and a half years while Mahmood, 42, of Gorton, was sentenced to two years and nine months.

Now Minh is now calling for a change in the law after learning he was an easy target because he had paid off his mortgage.

He said: "I first found out when my daughter rang me and asked 'where are you going now?' because I have moved around a bit.

"I told her that I was going nowhere and she said 'why is the house on Rightmove then?'.

"She sent me a link and there it was for £500,000 and the auction was going to be in the next few days."

Minh said at first he was a bit confused and thought something must be very wrong, but then he realised it must be fraud so contacted the police.

He said: "I had never heard of this happening to anybody else before but when I spoke to my solicitor, I was told that this was happening more and more."

Man had house put up for sale by fraudsters
(Saeed Ghani)

In June 2012, the fraudsters took three utility bills from Minh's postbox, which used to be situated 30 yards from his door at the bottom of his drive and out of sight from the house.

The pair then forged his signature and transferred the deeds of the house into Ghani's name before putting the home up for auction so prospective owners would not ask to look around the property.

But just three days before the home was supposed to go under the hammer, Minh uncovered the plot.

He is now calling for a change in the law after learning he was an easy target because he had paid off his mortgage.

If Minh had still been paying for his home, a signature would have been required form the lender in order to change the name on the deeds.

Man had house put up for sale by fraudsters
(Atif Mahmood)

Minh said: "I think that the people responsible deserved the sentence that they got because it was not just me that they targeted.

"When you know what they have done, it is quite clever really and it is up to the Land Registry to make it more difficult for them.

"I think the Government need to change the law on it," he continued.

"It was even easier for them because I had paid off my mortgage and they did not have to get another signature - now I have made sure my solicitor's signature is on the deed too.

"All it took for them to do this was to copy my signature, a bill and faked documents - it was that easy.

"It is people like me who have worked hard all their life and have paid off their mortgage who are just trying to enjoy their life in peace that they target."

The pair were also convicted of using fraudulent passports to target a couple and their £300,000 in Bolton, Gtr Manchester.

A third member of the group, Toma Ramanauskaite, 30, of Bury, also admitted conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years, on November 16.

He was also ordered to carry out 250 hours in unpaid work.

Ramanauskaite, Ghani and Mahmood worked together to create driving licences in the name of a couple from Salford. They went on to steal £90,000 of their savings in August 2014.

Speaking after Ghani and Mahmood were jailed, Detective Sergeant Phil Larratt, from Greater Manchester Police's Fraud Team, said: "In all three cases Ghani worked with an associate to hijack people's identities by stealing their mail.

"Today's verdict will hopefully send out a message to fraudsters in Greater Manchester that people will receive significant sentences for these types of crimes."

As this case demonstrates, fraudsters can use your identity details to open new bank accounts, request new driving licences and even try and steal your own home.

"We urge the public to secure their mail boxes and employ measures to protect their identities."

Victims of scams and fraud

Victims of scams and fraud

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