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address hijacking hit countless British homeowners

Bogus firm scams a London woman in fake address fraud


April 16, 2024

A shocking new incident has been reported by BBC News.

A woman from the City of London, Maggie Upton, has become yet another victim of property fraudsters and address hijacking.


The fraudsters managed to register a bogus firm on Companies House at Ms Upton's residential address. As in many other cases in England and Wales, the whole process went alarmingly unnoticed by the authorities and institutions.


Ms Upton's suspicions began to grow when she started receiving unusual mail to her address.

After a quick check on Companies House, the truth emerged.


Scammers had registered the bogus company, which supposedly sold sports equipment online, on 4 September. 



Fighting Back Address Hijacking


Ms. Upton's ordeal did not end with the discovery of the fraudulent registration. After getting over the initial shock, Ms Upton immediately acted to solve the situation, hoping for institutional support. 


Unfortunately for her, fraudsters and victims do not receive the same treatment when it comes to surveillance and identity checks.


Ms Upton immediately contacted Companies House. Yet, removing an address is far more cumbersome than registering it in the first place.


Registering a business with Companies House costs just £12. The process doesn't require any proof or identity checks whatsoever. Basically, miscreants can register a business to any address they choose In a matter of minutes.


Meanwhile, removing an address requires filling out a form and providing tangible proof of being the owner, such as utility bills or other relevant documentation.


A long procedure that can take weeks to reach its completion.


The difference in treatment is quite stark. Not surprisingly, homeowners unlucky enough to be victims of address hijacking are storming Companies House to demand quick changes.



Action Fraud vs Address Hijacking: a Losing Battle


Putting an end to these loopholes is easier said than done. One of the major problems is the fact that authorities don't even consider address hijacking to be a crime.


This absurd situation often leaves plenty of space for fraudsters to thrive.


When Ms Upton contacted the police and Action Fraud, the authorities informed her that address hijacking is not considered a crime. Therefore, there was nothing they could do to help her.



"It's just a complete panic thinking you can't do anything about it, you're just reliant on Companies House to sort it out but they [the fraudulent company] could be doing anything in the meantime and maybe getting me into debt" - she said at BBC News - "I don't sleep that well and it's there as soon as you wake up, buzzing around your head."



Ms Upton is waiting for Companies House to de-register her address. But she is not the only one who has experienced such cunning deceptions.


While cases of property fraud, identity theft and address hijacking keep rising, victims pile up and it seems that authorities can do little to help them.


In fact, urgent calls for stronger measures to protect individuals from property address misuse are repeatedly ignored. Even though the consequences of property address misuse can be serious, as victims may get into debt without even realising it.


BBC London's investigation uncovered several other addresses falsely registered, including a residential flat in central London associated with a staggering 4,000 businesses on Companies House. And countless other cases end up on the headlines every day.



Homeowners Outraged at Companies House


Ms Upton is currently waiting for Companies House to de-register her address.


In the meantime, she called for more protective measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future, rightly questioning why the registration of an address is so simple while the removal process is so arduous.


As evidenced by many other cases, the concern goes well beyond inconvenience. Victims are left vulnerable to potential misuse of their personal information, which could lead to financial complications and other, more sophisticated types of fraud.


Check out this article to learn more about identity theft and online scams.


Address hijacking is a threat that warrants swift attention and sound remedies. Companies House has recognised the problem and assured that new powers will be introduced to crack down on this practice. 


In the future at least. However, to date, not much has been done.


That's why property owners must be wary and always remain vigilant, checking any suspicious activity to report it promptly.

In such cases, prevention is always better than the cure