Secret Harbour real estate agent thwarts potential scammers

A SECRET Harbour real estate agent has thwarted a potential scam.

The Real Estate Institute of WA and the Australian Institute of Conveyancers recently issued a warning about potential investment fraud victims who had been making cash offers on multiple properties in Perth.

Coast2Coast Real Estate licensee Marilyn O’Brien Smith identified a problem with the finance that two women had supposedly obtained from an American institution to make several cash property purchases possible.

Ms O’Brien Smith first became suspicious because of the high number of cash offers made.

She then requested documentation to support the buyers’ financial position. The documentation provided raised her suspicions further and she contacted WA ScamNet.

WA ScamNet, in conjunction with the WA Police (WAPOL) Major Fraud Squad (MFS), was able to identify the loan documents as bogus and informed the affected parties in order to cease the scam’s progress.

The potential property buyers told MFS detectives that they were under the belief that they would receive finance for $10million from a US-based financial entity, to support philanthropic enterprises, such as the rehousing of homeless people. This, they said, was the reason for their proposed purchase of numerous properties south of Perth.

Consumer Protection acting Commissioner Gary Newcombe said Ms O’Brien Smith’s vigilance was an example of the important role agents play in the protection of property buyers and sellers from fraudulent activity.

“It is an important reminder of the need for real estate agencies to apply rigorous scrutiny to all potential property transactions,” he said.

Signs which may assist agents to identify fraudulent activity include: generic emails, documents issued from overseas, poor English, informal language and style, substandard quality of documents and inconsistent information.

If doubts are raised about the authenticity of a document, agents could seek to have it independently verified by the issuing authority.

Call WAPOL Major Fraud Squad 9220 0700 or WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection 1300 30 40 54 for advice.