Couple conned by sham solicitors over repossessed property

Couple conned by sham solicitors over repossessed property


A couple who bought a house that was in the process of being repossessed have spoken out against both the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, claiming they “wanted to wash their hands” of the problem.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Nick Christofi and his partner Sharon Griffin spoke of the ordeal that saw them conned out of £735,000 by a fake solicitors’ practice whose details were registered on the Law Society’s website.

The couple snapped up what they thought was a bargain three months ago, having made the decision to move from Cockfosters in North London to Hadley Wood. Christofi, a small time property developer, had been looking at properties in the area for some time and was delighted when estate agents Sean Heaney approached him.

In order to bridge the gap between selling their current property and buying the new one, the family borrowed £400,000 from Christofi’s brother and £200,000 from his brother-in-law. Christofi was then put in contact with the conmen, Acorn Solicitors, who were acting on behalf of the house’s seller.

On June 9 the couple received a repossession letter from Lloyds TSB, stating the owner owed them £843,000, with a repossession order granted last December. Now the couple are suing their solicitors, Schubert Murphy for negligence as they believe the firm failed to spot tell tale signs that Acorn was a bogus firm.

Schubert denies responsibility as do the Law Society and the SRA. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Christofi said: “As soon as I realised what had happened, I informed the Law Society and the SRA. Everybody wanted to wash their hands of this, until the police took what I was saying seriously.”

Following Christofi’s complaint, the Law Society kept the details of Acorn Solicitors on their website for six despite the SRA informing them that they were under investigation.  And according to Daily Mail’s report, the firm are under investigation for several other frauds linked to construction contracts with the 2012 London Olympics.

The Law Society says it regrets listing the solicitors but pointed out that the data comes from the SRA.

Christofi and his partner have managed to convince Lloyds to delay eviction until October and have hired law firm Holman Fenwick Willian on a ‘no-win no-fee’ basis.

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