PROPERTY scammers do not just target real estate and settlement agencies and 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 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 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.”
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.
“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 email@example.com or call 1300 304 054.