Sheila and Brian Plowman say they have been left homeless after selling their house of 45 years for £150,000 – but only receiving £40,987 from the sale.
Police and solicitors from Verisona Law are investigating after the couple saw an advert in a national newspaper by a website called speedyproperty.co.uk, which claimed they offered ‘fast cash’ for people looking to sell their home.
Within a matter of days the pair say they had been put in touch with a buyer and a Midlands solicitors firm, who the Plowmans say they were told would handle the sale.
But on the completion of the sale, the couple say that £99,000 was paid out to two companies, but they still do not know what the payments were for.
After deducting the leftover of their mortgage, the Plowmans say they were left with a fraction of their home’s worth and have moved into sheltered accommodation elsewhere in Portsmouth.
Speaking to The News, a tearful Mrs Plowman, 71, said: ‘I was gobsmacked.
‘It was devastating. We never thought we would ever get into a situation like this. It’s broken our hearts.
‘I’ve got to the stage where I want to do away with myself. I don’t want to live anymore.’
The couple have been married for 51 years, and owned their former council house in Hatherley Road, Paulsgrove, for 30 years.
Mrs Plowman, who used to work at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, said the stress of the situation had taken its toll on the pair’s health.
She said: ‘It’s knocked the stuffing right out of us.
‘This has made me very bitter and angry. We’ve not slept, we’re not eating much.
‘We’re losing weight through the stress of it all – I’ve lost a stone in weight with all the stress.
‘We’re just going from bad to worse at the moment. Brian has just spent five weeks in hospital and has cancer.’
The situation is now being investigated by police, in conjunction with Portsmouth-based Verisona Law.
A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: ‘We can confirm we are investigating speedyproperty.co.uk.
‘At the moment, three victims have come forward. Verisona is acting on behalf of these victims. We are urging any further victims to come forward and contact Verisona.’
The Plowmans were referred to Verisona after they approached Age UK with their worries. Verisona has received two other complaints from people across the UK about instances with speedyproperty.co.uk between 2013 and 2016.
A statement from Verisona said: ‘On completion of the sale for £150,000, the Plowmans’ solicitors paid £99,000 out to two companies for reasons that are not yet clear.’
It added: ‘It is not clear what (if any) services were provided by either firm to justify any payment to them, let alone a total of £99,000.’
The firm said in another occasion, an elderly woman in Nottingham replied to an advert from speedyproperty.co.uk.
Verisona said ‘an unknown third party was then put forward as a buyer, and a price of £260,000 agreed,’ with the woman also put in touch with a Midlands solicitors firm.
‘On completion of the sale for £260,000, (the woman’s) solicitors paid £149,000 out to two companies for reasons that are not yet clear,’ Verisona said.
And Verisona said in Wales a man sold his home for £165,000, after replying to the speedyproperty.co.uk advert.
Verisona said he was also put in touch with a Midlands firm of solicitors.
‘On completion of the sale for £165,000, (his) solicitors paid £96,000 out to two companies for reasons that are not yet clear,’ Verisona said.
In a statement Verisona added: ‘Verisona Law is now investigating all matters and would welcome contact from others who may have had similar experiences.’
The News approached speedyproperty.co.uk several times for comment but they have not provided a statement.
The Midlands solicitor was also approached but declined to comment, with a spokeswoman saying it could not discuss its clients.
The firm is monitored by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
A spokesman for the organisation said it had received no formal complaint about the solicitors’ actions but urged ‘anyone with concerns about conduct’ to contact them.