How to spot a survey scam
Every day, not only in Lagos, but across the country, real estate fraud occurs. Transacting real estate in Lagos is extremely dangerous since every step taken might cost a lot of money.
The fraud of fake land survey plans is one of the worst that a real estate investor may fall for. This isn’t extremely often, but it does happen.
The land survey plan scam is mostly carried out by Omoniles and land fraudsters, and it involves forging signatures, stealing (Free from Acquisition) Stamps from licensed surveyors, fabricating square meters to make a land appear larger, and re-creating fictitious existing roads that would never be approved.
Some even go as far as going to the land to chart fake coordinates to convince the buyer that it is free from acquisition.
When it comes time to perfect the governor’s consent, ratification, or title documents on the land, the client may face a challenge when they receive a letter from Alausa querying the survey plan, claiming the property is not free from government acquisition, has incorrect charting coordinates, or that land that should ordinarily be located in Epe appears on the master survey plan at Alausa as Ibeju Lekki.
So, what should a client watch out for when looking at a survey plan?
1. Survey plan name
The Name is the first item you should look at in a survey plan.
The entire survey plan is null and void if the name of the property owner is not properly written.
A minor spelling error in the property owner’s name might invalidate the entire survey plan, so make sure you thoroughly examine the name before receiving it from the surveyor.
This is why it’s critical to double-check that your name is spelled accurately on your survey plan before submitting it to Alausa. “Mr Chinedu Chukwudi” is not the same as “Mr Chinedu Chukudi”. If you lodge your survey with a wrong name, the only way to correct it will be a change of name.
2. Registered Surveyor seal
A survey that lacks the seal of a Registered Surveyor who may have conducted the survey is nothing more than a piece of paper.
The registration number is the most essential item to check for while inspecting the seal.
You may then conduct a search to verify if the surveyor is legitimate.
Unless the whole survey plan is flawed, you can also request the Surveyor’s Registration Card and inspect for the seal.
Most land fraudsters will remove the name of the street, region, or local government at this stage, making it simple to detect a survey plan fraud.
For example, a survey plan with the address “At Sangotedo” is almost certainly bogus.
This is due to the fact that Sangotedo has a large number of towns and villages.
Only if the land is in an undeveloped region with no apparent layouts or surrounding borders to pinpoint the land in consideration is this sort of address permitted.
The neighboring community, on the other hand, must be included. For example, “IN THE ETI-OSA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF OKUN AJAH WITHIN AJAH”
You must also be attentive to the Local Government area. A survey plan that says BOGIJE, ETI-OSA is fraudulent because Bogije is located in IBEJU LEKKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
4. Survey plan number
A survey plan number is the most vital part of your survey as it is what is used to carry out search at Alausa and without one on your survey, it is null and void. Normally located at the bottom left hand corner or a survey, it is mostly in this format: “XYZ/2222/2021/66/LA”. If you intend on lodging that survey at Alausa in your name, then you need the survey plan number.
5. Date the survey was made
Backdating the survey is one of the most prevalent land frauds. This might be done in order to deceive purchasers on the day the C of O or excision was issued. The dangers of a backdated survey plan are that it will be extremely difficult to process your papers once they discover it, and you won’t know the true history of the land because it could be someone else’s land that they have stolen to fool people into thinking it is an old property with no defects.
6. Signature and Stamp
Another thing to keep an eye out for while conducting a survey search is the registered Surveyor’s logo, signature, and stamp. The survey would be useless without it.
While this guide contains sufficient information, it should not be used as a substitute for expert guidance. When examining surveys, be sure you employ registered surveyors.