If you have had dealings with a real estate agency in recent months, you may have noticed them being extremely diligent with processes pertaining to bank or personal detail changes. While agencies have always had strict procedures when it comes to money, conditions have tightened further as the industry continues to be targeted by scammers due to large lump sum transfers between parties.
Picture this, you are ready to finalise the settlement of your property purchase. You receive an email from your agency advising of new deposit bank account details and transfer the funds as directed. The funds disappear into a scammer’s hands.
In 2017, sharp property buyers in Mandurah avoided losing more than $200,000 in an email scam targeting the settlement of a local property. The scammers sent an email as the settlement agent and directed the buyers to deposit funds into a ‘new’ bank account. Fortunately, the buyers noticed that the email address was slightly different than in previous exchanges, so they contacted the settlement agent who confirmed that it was in fact a fake payment request.
While each agency should take their own IT security measures to ensure their data remains secure, it is also up to client’s to be diligent and triple check names and email addresses before processing payments. If in doubt, always contact your real estate agent or settlement agent and confirm any changes prior to acting.
It is imperative that we all remain vigilant especially when exchanging details via email so that these scammers do not get access to our funds!