Over the last several months scammers have been breaking into the trust accounts of real estate agents and conveyancing businesses. These scammers are becoming more sophisticated with their messaging in an attempt to trick people and organisations out of money. No longer are we being targeted by unsolicited Nigerian emails asking us to deposit large sums of money into our bank accounts but scammers are posing as legitimate customers/clients and you cannot tell the difference between a genuine email and one from a scammer. So ultimately with this new scam, it’s not us who is out of money but our clients who have worked hard and saved up enough money to buy property.
The latest round of scams usually appears as an inquiry from our website. Fortunately, the emails are easy to spot. The wording is very similar in all the messages and we are now able to spot a dodgy message quite easily.
If you are unsure if you are receiving a scam email you can always respond and ask the person to call your office for an accurate quote. Otherwise don’t engage as they will continue the charade until you are asked to follow a link to the alleged contract which requires you enter your email address and password. You should never under any circumstances provide your email address and password to an external link. If you do provide this information the scammers will take control of your email address. Then they will sit and wait (while monitoring your emails) until you send a client trust account details for a deposit. Once you have done this they will send your client an email (from your email address) telling them different trust account details. The client will then unsuspectingly transfer their money into the scammers account.
A note to buyers: Always confirm your law firm or real estate agent trust account details over the phone (particularly if you get an email telling you the details have changed) before transferring any money.
A note to business owners: It is advisable not to let your staff know their email passwords so they don’t fall into this trap. The only way to foil these scammers is to stop falling for their tricks.
No one wants to lose their hard-earned money. Be smart about your online activities and you should be safe. If you do have any concerns about emails you receive while conducting your property purchase or sale always talk directly to your solicitor/conveyancer or your real estate agent.
This article is for information purposes only and is not legal advice. Always consult a professional before making any decisions. Monkey Conveyancing makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on our blog or found by following any link(s) included therein.