Do you really own your own property?: Check now before it’s too late

26th March 2021

26th March 2021

How easy, or difficult, is it to "make" over 2 lakhs or even more, fake home loan accounts in India? Anybody who has tried to take a genuine home loan account in India will tell you that the genuine home loans take a few kilos of documents, all variously signed, attested and with sheaves of proofs of identities, bank accounts, addresses and total backgrounds going back a few generations of the persons involved and the properties therein. Truly, known as immoveable properties, nothing can move them except reams of perfect documentation.

This is, truly, just the middle of the iceberg as far as banking frauds go in India. In statistical terms, about 20% by value. The real high value banking frauds are on the top of the iceberg, visible over the water, and those are the prominent ones. At the bottom, well below the surface, are the millions of small fake loans strengthened lately by an industry around quick online loan apps and "digital" scamsters. All of them have one thing in common - they are all linked to the money laundry industry, which in turn has or increasingly now, had only one objective - get the money out of India to some other country, park it there in some form of asset or the other, and wait for the Indian Rupee to devalue some more before bringing the money back to pay off the loan in Indian Rupees - if caught. If not caught, why come back to India, there would always be another financial amnesty?

What or how much is 65 lakh crore rupees (since reviewed and re-estimated to be 200 lakh crores, by the way) salted abroad worth? Please understand - the total paid up share capital of the new NaBFID will be 1 lakh crore rupees towards infrastructure projects. India's total stock market capitalisation at the height of the latest boom was just about 2 lakh crore of rupees.

The total Defence Budget for India is below 5 lakh crore rupees.The budget for Health in India is about 2.25 crore rupees. Drinking water, which is the basic right for not just human beings but all well-being, manages just about 25 thousand crores across different schemes. Where will the money for social benefit come from if all the funds are looted and parked abroad, never to return?

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But back to housing scams. A few days ago I got a bit of a shock - first a local cop kind of hinted that something was awry about our ancestral house, where I live, but without too much by way of details. Then somebody called up from the office of the area's revenue office, asking me if I wanted to come and inspect documents, all it needed was a visit and an application - he was kind enough to provide me his office location, room number and contact details. Then a few days later a local builder friend told me - it seems your house is up for sale? This, incidentally, pertains to real estate which in all cases have other claimants as well as taxation compliances.

Mystified, I started checking, and lo-and-behold, it turned out a great miracle had happened a few weeks ago. A branch of the family living abroad for generations, in correspondence for peaceful resolution of pending family estates, minor stake holders in a variety of ancestral properties on maternal and paternal sides in different parts of India, had probably felt the need for quick money and given what are known as Special Power of Attorneys (SPoA) to a pair of fine smart young men in India. Now it gets interesting - 'giving" a Special Power of Attorney" for a foreigner is as easy as jam. This is an example of one of the Consulates that gave one of the SPoA. 

Please note - as on date, the Proof of Identity or Proof of Address for an SPoA pertaining to immoveable property with a value in crores in most cases, does not include a single proof of tax-payer status anywhere. Unlike for an Indian resident, who needs to produce a PAN Card before any form of documentation involving real estate or even buying a motor-cycle, the SPoA is seriously deficient in this context. Despite this Supreme Court Ruling and Gazette notification.

So what had been done, smartly, in my case? Using this SPoA issued by our Consulates in San Francisco and New York, my nephew had "gifted" his share, "relinquished for consideration" is the legal term, to my niece. And then using the vast heaps of documentation generated, managed to convince the sub-Registrar's Office for the locations where the immoveable properties are not moving from, that the "relinquishment" now made them registered owners of the said properties. Start searching on the subject and you come across so many that it is difficult to choose.

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What is the solution to such attempted fraud from your side if you are a resident Indian Citizen and have an ancestral property which is being claimed also by foreigners, relatives  or otherwise, since the SPoA process in our Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates abroad are so simple and easy to deflect - or if you even faintly suspect that somebody abroad or in India has an evil eye on it for whatever reason? 

First of all, check online for the property records. Help your neighbours, friends, and other people whose welfare you are interested in. Different Government departments, States, Municipal Bodies, Panchayats and others have different methods, but almost 90% or more of them are online now.

Next, if you find a flaw - because at the end of the day, the accuracy of the records depend on a data-entry operator - start getting things corrected. For that you may need professional help.

But most importantly, drop a series of communications by multiple means - letters, public grievances, Right to Information Applications and similar - that no action should be taken on the documentation for the said property without keeping you suitably informed at all stages. This is very important and you should start yesterday.

Otherwise some beloved niece or nephew types living abroad, who you gave all your love and affection to when they were children and visiting, will stroll into some Office somewhere and generate an SPoA with which they can play all sorts of real estate games, leaving you poorer not only for the real estate but also holding the liabilities from the tax department and other claimants.

Wake up, check your immoveable property records today. If somebody can manage 2.5 lakh fake housing loans, then you need to look after your own housing very rapidly indeed.

Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.

A survivor of two brain-strokes, triggered by a ship explosion in the 70s, Veeresh moved beyond fear decades ago.

 

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