Lender fights against fraud

Lender fights against fraud


Continuing his exclusive articles for Bridging & Commercial on fraud, Cheval CEO Alan Margolis explains what arouses lenders’ suspicions, as well as the measures taken by some bridging lenders – ranging from using Google Earth to “the sniff test” –to counteract fraud. 

According to Mr Margolis, secured lenders are vulnerable in two key areas: defective valuations and fraud – although sometimes the fraud can be linked to the valuation. 

In most cases it is difficult to prove that a valuation is fraudulent as opposed to negligent. However, a common theme is that a non local valuer has been used to value the security property.

“Cheval has dealt with the issue of valuation fraud in a number of ways.” Mr Margolis continued. “For new valuations we use a panel manager which ensures that local valuers who have been vetted and have current adequate PI are used. Internally, we do our own web based comparisons and even use Google Earth to have a look at the street and surrounding area.”

Where the bridging lender is asked to use an existing valuation as the basis for a new valuation, Cheval, along with additional checks, tries to ensure that the valuer is local to the property.

Ensuring that the borrower is who they say they are and that they have the ability to deal with the property is the other big challenge.


As part of its KYC process, Cheval requires a certified copy of the borrower’s UK Passport and two original, recent utility bills. These are then used to verify the borrower’s ID electronically.


The relationship between the borrower and their solicitor is also considered. Comfort is obtained where the solicitor confirms that they have acted for the borrower for a number of years. Conversely, if the borrower is unknown to the solicitor and / or the solicitor being used is not local to the borrower, then further investigation may be required.

All the above information is then considered in the context of the application.


However, Mr Margolis attests that sometimes peculiarities leap out. He said: “One such case was a borrower living in a scruffier part of Manchester buying a property in Holland Park and – here’s another suspicion raiser – using solicitors in Leicester!”


A quick check at HMLR revealed that the borrower’s residence was owned by his partner and a Companies House check on his alleged employer revealed there was no way – according to the accounts at least – that he could be earning his stated salary.


“Needless to say that application was quickly rejected.” Mr Margolis concluded. 

In order to prevent fraud, lenders are advised to verify the ID provided; ensure the valuers are local to the security property (and if not, ask why not) and establish the connection between the borrower and their solicitor.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, there’s the “sniff test” – general intuition and questioning whether the reason for the loan makes sense: Does the borrower, their stated income and occupation, their residence, the activity shown in their bank statements all tie up together?  After all, if these questions can’t be answered and the lender doesn’t have a clear understanding of who they are lending to and why, it is probable that the loan application will be turned down.

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