Rob King

Rob King
Head of Property Technical

How to safeguard your pension scheme or property against potential fraud

Our most recent article was written by our expert property team here at WBR SSAS to provide our readers with advice on how to safeguard properties held in a SSAS pension against potential fraud.

Individual member/ trustees should register an account with the HMLR Property Alert system to gain an extra layer of protection against property fraud, for their SSAS property.                          

The Office for National Statistic’s Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates that there were more than four million incidents of fraud in 2020, costing billions of pounds, with numbers of property fraud increasing year on year.

There is an increased level of risk if:

  • your SSAS property is being rented (the majority will be)
  • you live overseas (many members do)
  • the property is empty (for short or long periods of time)
  • the property is not mortgaged (many SSAS properties are not)      
  • your identity’s been stolen
  • the property is not registered with HM Land Registry (Your property will be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it since 1998).         

How do fraudsters use SSAS Property?

One of the most direct methods fraudsters use to intercept property ownership is by either requesting a change to the Land Registry title to transfer ownership into their own name, or they impersonate the owner. Property titles (in England and Wales) are published online (for a small fee), which makes identifying the owner very easy.               

A real life example of this can be seen in the case of Antoine v Barclays Bank published on 20th December 2018. Mr Antoine owned a Property, a fraudster (named Mr Taylor) forged documents resulting in a Court making an Order that the Property be transferred Mr Taylor. The Fraudster then mortgaged the Property and ran off with the money.

Ultimately Mr Antoine was restored as the owner, but he owned the Property subject to the mortgage Charge.                   

If Mr Antoine had registered with HMLR Property Alert system, he would have been made aware of the application to register the Court Order and could have challenged the registration, and prevented the registration of the Charge.               

How does registration work?                 

  • It is a free service                
  • You register an account online using your email address.       
  • You can register up to 10 different property addresses on one account. (For leasehold retail units in blocks of flats for example, please select the leasehold title).
  • The property you wish to monitor must be situated in England or Wales and registered with HM Land Registry
  • For schemes that hold more than 10 properties, additional account(s) will need to be set up in order to monitor all scheme properties.   
  • The same property can be monitored by different people/members.
  • Once you have signed up to the service, you will receive email alerts when certain activity occurs, allowing you to take action if necessary.        
  • If you receive an alert about activity that seems suspicious you should take action quickly. The alert email will indicate who to contact.          

To ensure this system continues to protect against fraud –

  • Please ensure you monitor the registered email account for notifications from HMLR. 
  • Please update any change to the member/trustees contact address on the Land Registry property title.

Useful links            

HM Land Registry – Property Alert

Protect your land and property from fraud – GOV.UK (