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Latest Cifas research reveals five percent increase in mortgage fraud in the first half of 2019

23 September 2019
  • Fraudulent applications on mortgages up 5% - as 13% of British adults believe it is ‘reasonable’ to exaggerate income on a mortgage application.
  • Research reveals 16% rise in those aged 31-40 making fraudulent mortgage applications.

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has revealed that mortgage fraud has seen a 5% increase in the first six months of 2019 compared to the last six months of 2018. These figures are being released as part of the Cifas ‘Faces of Fraud’ campaign, which aims to highlight the fact that what some view as a victimless crime, is both illegal and could have serious consequences for those involved.

Mortgage application fraud occurs when either false or altered documents are provided in support of a mortgage application (fraud by production of a false document increased by 14% and fraud by submitting altered documents increased by 32%). Such applicants often provide false or altered bank statements and proof of income as a way to validate their income for mortgage applications.

Interestingly, nearly half of those caught committing application fraud (45%) were aged between 31-40 years old, a 16% increase compared to the last six months of 2018. They were closely followed by those aged between 41-50 years old who saw a 6% increase.

Coincidentally, recent research carried out by Cifas and WPI Economics revealed that people in the 35-44 age category were more likely to think that exaggerating their income on their mortgage application was ‘reasonable’ than any other age group.

In terms of regional breakdowns, the West Midlands saw the highest increase in fraudulent mortgage applications at 43%, whereas cases in the North East rose by a third.

Cifas is urging people to stop, think and consider the serious consequences of making false representation in mortgage applications. Taking out a mortgage based on a false income could result in homeowners being unable to repay the debt later on. Other consequences could include; blacklisting against future product purchases, or possibly being reported to the police for investigation - potentially leading to a criminal conviction and a prison sentence.

Mike Haley, Chief Executive Officer of Cifas, said, ‘It’s easy to assume that making exaggerations to improve the chances of your mortgage being approved is harmless, but the reality is that this is fraud and the consequences can be very serious.

‘Mortgage providers carry out rigorous checks, and so exaggerating your income or withholding any change of circumstances could result in it being harder to obtain financial products in the future such as mortgages and loans. In more serious cases, this kind of fraud could result in a hefty fine or a prison sentence, or the possibility of losing your home.’

James O'Sullivan, Policy Manager for the Building Societies Association, said: ‘A mortgage is a significant financial commitment and it is essential that applicants are honest about their personal circumstances. There are many risks inherent in being less than honest, not least that the borrower finds themselves unable to pay because a realistic affordability assessment was not possible or that, when caught, offenders struggle to get future credit. It is far from being a victimless crime and is something that lenders take rigorous action on.’




For more information, please contact:

T: +44 (0)20 067 0008

Notes to editors


Cases recorded for mortgage products:

Case Type
Change between first six months 2019 vs last six months 2018
Application Fraud
Facility takeover
Identity Fraud
Misuse of Facility

Age of subjects recorded for application fraud:

Change first six months 2019 vs last six months 2018
Proportion January to July 2019

*Although this age group had the highest increase, the volumes are small


Region breakdown of application fraud on personal mortgages:

West Midlands
North East
Yorkshire and the Humber
South East
South West
North West
East Midlands
  • The Cifas report ‘Tackling First Party Fraud’ in conjunction with WPI Economics was published in July 2019 and available here.
  • Reference to mortgage rates obtained from What Mortgage in July 2019 and available here.

About Cifas
Cifas exists to prevent fraud and financial crime. We are an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that protects businesses and individuals through effective and secure data and intelligence sharing between the private, public and third sectors. In 2017, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.3 billion of fraud losses.

Cifas data is included in the Office of National Statistics England and Wales Crime Statistics of police recorded crime and works alongside law enforcement agencies in tackling fraud. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently, for instance after a burglary. We also run a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable, offered free of charge to local authorities to protect those under the care of Court Deputies who are unable to access financial products and whose identities may be at risk.

Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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