In November last year, I wrote about cybercrime affecting some conveyancers and now we have the headline, SA Police raise real estate scam alert.
In the article, Scammers hit Adelaide Conveyancers as Eckermann introduces new anti-cybercrime measures, I outlined how Eckermann Conveyancers’ has added further procedures to our systems for arranging payment and the transfer of monies to guard agaist this new wave of scamming.
Most of these scams centre around criminals sending fake emails that look authentic, masquerading as real estate agents or conveyancers, sending “updated” banking details linked to their own accounts.
And now another South Australian has fallen victim to this scam.
Information from the police
SA Police have had reports over the last six months in which scammers have used bogus email details to pose as both agents and conveyancers in order to obtain money fraudulently.
Unfortunately “business email compromise” scams can target a range of people, businesses and industries, with scammers creating false email domain names that look legitimate, then providing the victim with altered banking details for a deposit or payment to be made into.
This week an incident was reported to police in which a victim was advised of banking details for a real estate company into which they transferred a significant deposit for a property. It later transpired the email providing the details was from a scammer, and the money had since been transferred from the account it was initially paid into.
Last year, as we reported, it was property buyers being defrauded by scammers posing as conveyancers, so this latest development shows the scam is evolving.
SA Police raise real estate scam alert and offer tips for safety
Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Bolingbroke, from the SA Police Major Fraud Investigation Section, said scammers will often target businesses which deal in a large number of transactions involving significant sums of money, which includes the real estate industry.
“This type of crime can have a terrible impact for the victims with large sums of money involved, so we remind the community to be vigilant with their personal and business transactions,” he said.
Some tips from the latest SA Police real estate scam alert update, include:
- Treat phone calls, emails or letters from a supplier seeking a change to the bank account details you use to pay them, with caution.
- Use the correct, independently verified number from the supplier’s website, or the one you have on file, to call a known contact directly to confirm if the request is legitimate.
- If emailing, type the known email address in the ‘to’ section rather than replying to an email received – scammers often use a very similar email address but with a different suffix or domain name.
- Know that a BSB search, which can easily be done online, will reveal details about a bank account you have been asked to send to.
- Remember words you enter in the free text when conducting bank transfers have no bearing on the transaction – ie writing the name of the account holder does not mean it is that company’s bank account, it can belong to scammers posing as a company.
- Be aware that scammers have also been known to hack Chief Executive officers’ and managers’ email accounts, then send email authorisation to junior officers for the transfer of money into an account controlled by the offenders.
How Eckermann Conveyancers provides protection amid the real estate scam alert
Ultimately, thieves are using technology to find new ways of infiltrating all businesses and hijacking legitimate communications between conveyancers, agents, and their clients.
So, the Eckermann Conveyancers team is remaining vigilant and developing new protocols to keep you safe.
One of our counter measures has been to establish a single page on our website with our trust account details, so you can rest assured you have a trusted point of reference for our trust account banking details.
You’ll find this page at https://eckermanns.com.au/lawyers/trust-account/
We would like to see this as a standard approach for all conveyancers and real estate agents because it will give consumers greater trust, so to speak, when looking for trust account details.
As a further measure, we also have 24-hour monitoring of our trust page to ensure that if any scoundrels do manage to get into our website, they won’t be able to corrupt the information.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about conveyancing and the transfer of monies, please raise it with your Eckermann Conveyancers’ file manager or contact.
At the end of the day, we pride ourselves on delivering peace of mind in every transaction.