Property buyers narrowly avoid $200,000 settlement scam

A PAIR of astute Mandurah property buyers managed to avoid being fleeced out of $200,000 in a settlement agency scam.

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

But they noticed the email address was slightly different from the original one being used.

They queried the request with their settlement agent directly, who confirmed it was a fake email.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard praised the actions of the buyers.

“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.”

Mr Hillyard said it only took one phone call to confirm if requests for money are genuine.

“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,” he said.

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.