Scam to stop home auctions

More than 20 people were involved in a scam which aided people behind on their mortgage repayments from losing their homes in public auctions, officials said yesterday. The Special Investigation Service (SIS) said that a 49-year-old man from Palaio Psychico was arrested in connection with the alleged con. Officers said he was part of a ring which formed more than 100 mock companies since April. The suspects approached homeowners about to lose their property at auctions held by banks. The scammers convinced an unspecified number of homeowners to sign 30-year rental contracts with one of the mock firms. This would put people off bidding for the properties at auction because of fears of being involved in a legal wrangle with the supposed tenants. SIS said the scam aimed to sabotage the auctions to allow the homeowners to pay their outstanding debt and pay the gang a fee for its help.