Scammers target property buyers and conveyancers
Property buyers should be sure to verify all bank account and email information before transferring any money.
Buyers in South Australia and Western Australia have recently been targeted by fraudsters posing as conveyancers. In each case, the people received bogus emails purporting to be from their settlement agency asking them to deposit money into a bank account to finalise the transaction on their purchase of property.
It is the first time authorities have seen scammers posing as conveyancers. The scam has prompted warnings from Consumer Protection to be wary of sharing personal information by email or otherwise online, and to always check banking or email details in person with your settlement agency.
“It appears that the scammers have hacked into somebody’s email account and in this case the person clearly had said that they were buying a house,” said Consumer Protection director of property industries, Stephen Meagher, about the Western Australian incident.
“One thing we always say is that on your Facebook and [on the internet], don’t tell people you’re buying a house or selling a house or going on holidays and things like that,” he said. “You just don’t want stuff out in the public domain so people know your private business.”
Conveyancers issue scam warning
The Australian Institute of Conveyancers has warned that the scam has the potential to cause a property settlement to become void if the funds can’t be met within the settlement period. Most people, of course, do not have the wherewithal to absorb losses on the scale of these email scams, which are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Institute’s South Australian CEO Rebecca Hayes says that although conveyancers and real estate agencies have been warned about the scam and how to take protective steps, consumers must also be aware of the risks and take the advice of insurers and authorities:
“It’s really important that consumers pick up the phone and check those details and check that the email is a legitimate email prior to actually transferring any money.”
Spot On Conveyancing strongly advises you to contact us immediately if you receive any email requesting you to pay money to us.