Incidents prompt property fraud warning
PROPERTY scammers do not just target real estate and settlement agencies and Consumer Protection is warning buyers and sellers to be wary of 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 fake.
Consumer Protection acting commissioner David Hillyard praised the actions of the buyers, who could have lost a substantial amount 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 easy for scammers to hack email accounts, as we believe happened to the buyers in this case, and get information about financial transactions underway.
“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.
More details at www.scamnet.wa.gov.au and reports can be sent to email@example.com. gov.au or call 1300 304 054. ■