Leading online estate agent, eMoov.co.uk, is warning about the potential dangers of unverified viewers during the house selling process after a man has been jailed for two armed robberies while posing as a potential buyer when visiting two separate properties.

Mark O’Reilly was jailed for 12 years for three firearm offences and three robbery offences after using a sawn-off shotgun to conduct two robberies in Tower Hamlets and Haringey, with police stating he had planned to carry out a number of others.

On the 15th June O’Reilly posed as a prospective tenant and bound the hands and feet of a 24-year-old agent and the tenant of a property in Bromley-by-Bow whilst at gunpoint. He then stole an I-Pad, cash and bank cards which he gained the passcodes for by holding the gun to the occupant’s head.

He then carried out a similar attack six days later in Gladstone Avenue, London N22, viewing the property to scope it out, before later returning under the false pretence that he was with his girlfriend. He then stated that his girlfriend was late before entering the property and threatening the 22-year-old estate agent, ordering him to hand over his mobile phone, car and flat keys, cash and driving license before fleeing from the location.

O’Reilly was caught three days later after an extensive manhunt and was found in the possession of a shotgun. Although the weapon turned out to be a replica, it demonstrates the danger that estate agents and homeowners face when accepting a stranger into a home.

It comes just months after eMoov launched Veridu, a unique industry first verification process that identifies and verifies a viewer through the use of social media profiling, online services and documents before they are scheduled to view a property. Although Veridu already operates in other sectors, eMoov’s use of the product to verify the identity of potential viewers is a pioneering step within the property industry and one that is yet to be replicated by any other online or high street agent.  

eMoov have fully integrated Veridu into their ‘Book a Viewing’ journey so that users can register by logging into a social account such as Facebook or Twitter, verifying their identity in the process. The home seller will then be able to view a picture of the verified user and know who to expect.

The use of Veridu in this capacity is a big step in combating the security and safety risks associated with the house viewing process for both buyer and seller. By offering this service, eMoov has taken a considerable step towards the complete safeguarding of its customers’ safety, so those visiting a property are identified prior to a viewing and aren’t a faceless stranger.

“This latest news is shocking and really does highlight the danger that a lack of verification poses during the house viewing process. At a time when stress levels and costs are already high, I can’t imagine the strain put on both agent and homeowner alike after these despicable acts.

We urge every agent across the UK, whether they are online or on the high street, to integrate a viewer verification process into their consumer offering, not only for the safety of the viewer but also themselves.

Our use of Veridu in this capacity may be an industry first and we are happy to be able to offer it to all of our customers, but we hope it will soon become the industry norm and help provide peace of mind to all involved when selling a property.”

Ivan Ramirez

CTO, eMoov.co.uk

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