Manchester-based Beever and Struthers has increased its counter fraud and cyber crime team due to its property clients' growing concerns about risks posed to their business by individuals affected by the credit crunch increasingly turning to fraudulent activity.
Graham Salmon, head of counter fraud services at Beever and Struthers, said: "There are a number of fraud-related risks specific to the property sector. In relation to property management companies, asset misappropriation, falsification of invoices, overbilling, renting of "vacant" properties – usually residential – for cash and falsification of insurance claims account for a significant number of detected frauds.
"Although many of these issues can also be applied to the construction sector, construction has its own, quite unique set of fraud risks. These include bid rigging, kick backs to employees for appointment of specific contractors and consultants and defective pricing.
"Thinking about the property sector in general, overvaluations and mortgage fraud remain prevalent, and will continue as long as income multipliers remain reduced when compared with recent years and property values continue to fall."
Salmon said the firm was putting its staff through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' professional qualification to cope with "unprecedented market demand."
Beever and Struthers' strategy coincided with the Government staging National Identity Fraud Protection Week to help people and businesses to protect themselves from identity fraud, one of the UK's fastest growing crimes.
Beever and Struthers has offices in Manchester, Altrincham and London.