Solicitors have to have comprehensive professional indemnity insurance and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, so you can be sure that, if anything should go wrong, you will be properly covered.

When a solicitor assists in a purchase, therefore, there is a route to redress if a mistake occurs. That was certainly not the case for more than 250 elderly people who bought worthless ‘trust deeds’ from fraudsters in the forlorn hope of saving the value of their homes from being eaten away by the costs of future care.

Those behind the con were said to have made about £500,000 by the use of hard-sell techniques. Scare tactics were used and, in one case, a woman in poor health was cynically told that she might have to move into a care home sooner rather than later. Other frail pensioners were told a pack of lies in order to persuade them to purchase the documents, which had not been professionally drafted and achieved nothing of benefit to the purchasers.

The three ringleaders of the scam were eventually prosecuted and pleaded guilty to carrying on regulated activities which should only have been performed by qualified lawyers. Two of them admitted fraudulent trading and were jailed for four years. The third received a four-and-a-half year term when found guilty.

The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal dismissed arguments that the sentences were excessive.

There is no effective protection for people taken in by scams such as this. When considering any substantial financial arrangement or the purchase of property, consult a solicitor, who will give unbiased and independent advice, putting your interests first.


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