A new method of extorting money from property owners using forged documents and registering sale of their property is widely adopted in Chennai. According to city police sources, only one victim has come forward to lodge a complaint while many opted for a ‘settlement' with the culprits.

Last September, a retired State government employee was shocked when some persons produced documents that showed his property as having been registered in another person's name.

“The accused persons threatened the victim that going to police or court might take years for disposal. They demanded 15 per cent of the property value (3.5 grounds near the Adyar bus terminus) to cancel the fake land registration which was completed using a fake buyer,” said a senior officer with the Central Crime Branch (CCB) on the sole complaint that was received on the fraud. CCB arrested three persons in connection with the case which is now pending in court.

Police sources say many innocent land owners have fallen prey to the modus operandi adopted by the gangs of property fraudsters whose trump card is the fact that a property under dispute can't be sold or promoted and only a civil court order revoking the fraudulent registration can solve the crisis. Therefore, the victim is forced to comply with the fraudsters' demand and pay the money, sources add.

The State Registration and Revenue departments are aware of this fraud and are taking steps to counter it. Inspector-General of Registration D. Sabitha says the forthcoming Tamil Nadu State Wide Area Network (TNSWAN), linking the entire Registration Department online including 574 Sub-Registrar offices in the State, could annul such land frauds.

“Once the system comes into effect, a Sub-Registrar can view all land details at one-touch of a button as the State Revenue department issuing pattas will also be networked using TNSWAN,” Ms. Sabitha adds.

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Petlee PeterJune 28, 2012

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