Attempt by scammers to steal $200,000 from property settlement

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ConsumerProperty industry

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

The buyers, a father and son, received an email purporting to be from their settlement agent asking them to deposit the funds into a bank account in order to finalise the settlement of a house purchase.

They noticed that the email address was slightly different from the original one being used, so they queried the request with their settlement agent direct who confirmed it was a fake email.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection 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,” Mr Hillyard 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 underway.

“The scammers then clone email addresses and try to entice the parties involved to syphon 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.

“So this attempt is a reminder to everyone involved in property transactions in WA to be aware that criminals are 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. It could prevent you from becoming a scam victim and suffering financial loss.”

More information on scams is available at www.scamnet.wa.gov.au and reports can be sent to wascamnet@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

END OF RELEASE

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
30 Mar 2017

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