The Land Registry will block online access to sensitive data following a security flaw being identified on its online registry service.
A newspaper reported that criminal gangs have stolen £12m in two years exploiting the flaws in the Land Register Online service. Thieves used the insecure online government register to view documents such as title deeds, which enabled them to feign ownership of other people's properties.
After the scam was reported the Land Registry was forced to remove sensititve documents from its insecure website. From midnight tonight [5 November 2007] online access to sensitive documents such as mortgage deeds and leases will no longer be possible. Copies of these documents will only be made available to the public through written application.
In a statement, the Land Registry claimed that it had tightened up access.
However, the move comes just a day after the newspaper exposed the situation, following a period of two years in which the site had been insecure.
Mike Westcott-Rudd, head of corporate legal services, promised the victims of fraud need not worry. "If someone is a victim of fraud, we have a comprehensive compensation scheme in place to put things right," he said. However, following the newspaper story, the Land Registry has agreed to pre-empt fraud by making it harder to obtain sensitive documents.
Land Register Online, launched in January 2005, includes a property database of over 21 million titles.