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Home ownership dream shattered after $133k scam

  • January 19 2021
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Home ownership dream shattered after $133k scam

By Cameron Micallef
January 19 2021

The Western Australian government has issued a warning surrounding a new scam targeted at home buyers following a couple losing $133,000 in a payment redirection scam.

Home ownership dream shattered

Home ownership dream shattered after $133k scam

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  • January 19 2021
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The Western Australian government has issued a warning surrounding a new scam targeted at home buyers following a couple losing $133,000 in a payment redirection scam.

Home ownership dream shattered

According to Consumer Protection WA home buyers are being targeted by “ruthless criminals” posing as settlement agents and other parties involved in the home buying process.

The latest victims were a couple in Thornlie who had their offer on a Pair Water home accepted only to lose the settlement cost to scammers.

The 32 year old husband received an email which he thought was the settlement agent asking for a payment of $110,000 and included bank account details.

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The email address was almost the same as the settlement agent’s, except for one extra letter. 

Not realising this, the victim transferred three payments amounting to $110,000 on 15 and 16 December 2020, then made a further payment supposedly for stamp duty of $22,981.40 on 21 December 2020. 

The bank was reportedly unable to retrieve the funds and the couple were unable to purchase the property.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said it was heartbreaking for the couple to lose money that they had worked so hard to save.

“Ruthless criminals who hide behind the anonymity of the internet have little regard for the circumstances of their victims. We must ensure that we do not reward their devious efforts by falling for their deceitful tactics,” Ms Chopping said.

“Payment redirection or ‘man in the middle’ scams are becoming all too common with email accounts being hacked and cloned, with demands for money being made in situations where the victims may be expecting to receive such a request, so are less likely to question it.

The commissioner also highlighted that due to the size of property transactions they are often prime targets for scammers.

“People working in the industry and consumers involved in buying or selling property need to be extra vigilant when acting on payment requests. Be suspicious of any email asking for a payment of money or advising of a change in bank account details to where payments are to be sent,” she said.

Consumer Protection has issued the following steps to reducing the likelihood of falling victim to scams: 

  • Verify the sender of emails requesting payments or changing bank account details by checking that the email address is genuine;
  • Call the sender to confirm the authenticity of the request and the account details, using previously known contact numbers or independently find out with an internet search or go to the agent’s website for contact information;
  • Visit the agent’s office in person to verify the details before completing the transfer or hand over a bank cheque.
Home ownership dream shattered after $133k scam
Home ownership dream shattered
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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