Weekend Courier - - Sport -

PROP­ERTY scam­mers do not just tar­get real es­tate and set­tle­ment agen­cies, so Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion is warn­ing buy­ers and sell­ers to look out for fraud attempts.

As­tute buy­ers in Man­durah re­cently thwarted an at­tempt by scam­mers to steal more than $200,000 from the set­tle­ment of a lo­cal prop­erty.

They re­ceived an email claim­ing to be from their set­tle­ment agent, ask­ing them to de­posit funds into a bank ac­count to fi­nalise the set­tle­ment of a house pur­chase. They no­ticed the email ad­dress was slightly dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nal one be­ing used and con­tacted their set­tle­ment agent di­rect, who con­firmed it was a fake email.

Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion act­ing com­mis­sioner David Hill­yard praised the ac­tions of the buy­ers, who could have lost a lot of money if they had acted with­out think­ing.

“Be­ing sus­pi­cious about any email ask­ing for money and dou­ble-check­ing its au­then­tic­ity is good prac­tice, es­pe­cially when large amounts of money are in­volved,” he said.

“It’s very easy for scam­mers to hack into email ac­counts, as we be­lieve hap­pened to the buy­ers in this case, and get in­for­ma­tion about fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions cur­rently un­der way.

“The scam­mers then clone email ad­dresses and try to en­tice the par­ties in­volved to siphon funds from the trans­ac­tion into bank ac­counts un­der their con­trol.

“All too of­ten we hear of scam attempts like these be­ing suc­cess­ful, re­sult­ing in fi­nan­cial hard­ship for the vic­tims.

“In most cases, all it takes is a phone call to con­firm re­quests for money are gen­uine and pre­vent any losses.”

Mr Hill­yard said this at­tempt was a re­minder to every­one in­volved in prop­erty trans­ac­tions in WA to be aware criminals were ac­tively try­ing to in­ter­cept com­mu­ni­ca­tions and money flows for their own fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit.

“Whether you are a buyer or seller or real es­tate/set­tle­ment agent, dou­ble-check email ad­dresses and bank ac­counts be­fore send­ing or au­tho­ris­ing the trans­fer of funds and if in doubt, pick up the phone,” he said.

For more, visit www.scam­ au. Re­ports can be sent to was­cam­net@ com­ or call 1300 304 054.

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