About to Settle? You Could be the Target of Scammers

Following a recent urgent alert from WA Consumer Protection bodies, we remind buyers, sellers, and tenants to double check any email purporting to be from their real estate or settlement agent requesting funds be sent to a bank account. Unfortunately, a handful of Perth people have lost significant amounts of money in 2017.

How does it work?

In simple terms, the cyber-scam involves hacking into email accounts to look for details of pending property deals. Once identified, an intercepting email is commonly sent with false bank details for deposits or transfers. Recipients who would normally be easily deceived are still vulnerable, as they are expecting an email with bank details of trust accounts as a normal course of action for their transaction to progress. Messages can look and read as almost identical to the email address of a real estate or settlement agent.

What can you do?

Follow Best Practice to avoid fraud when paying a deposit to both a real estate agent or settlement agent. We recommend:

  • Verifying banking details over the phone before paying deposits
  • Ensuring you do not use contact details contained in emails as the calls could be diverted (this is why despite the prevalence of mobile phones, Iconic still has an advertised office landline)
  • Transferring a small amount such as $2 before the due date, and confirming the intended entity has received it before transferring a larger amount
  • Not even replying to emails of this type or engaging in communication if in any doubt

Unfortunately, your bank may not be able to protect you or retrieve lost funds as the money is usually quickly withdrawn before the fraud is discovered. Authorities believe many culprits are operating overseas.

At Iconic, we regularly update our security software and passwords. We might call you to verify your details if we need to make payments to you. When we do so, please be aware we are simply looking to protect your interests, and ensure emails we receive are actually from you. Extreme vigilance is the best defence.

Any concerns please contact our Trust Accountant Tracy Thomson on 9228 9111.