Consumer Affairs Victoria has alerted property buyers of a potential scam that targets property buyers purchasing through agencies, with losses already surpassing $200,000.
The Victorian consumer affairs regulator has outlined that it has received notification of hackers targeting the email accounts of real estate agencies and attempting to scam home buyers into paying their deposits into the wrong bank account.
Consumer Affairs Victoria elaborates: “In most cases, the home buyer was sent an email from the selling agent with the contract of sale and trust account details for payment of the deposit. Shortly afterwards, they received a second email from the same email address, advising them of an ‘error’ in the first email, and to deposit their money into a different account.
“While it looks legitimate, the second email is possibly a hack – and money paid goes to an account not related to the selling agent.”
The director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, Simon Cohen, said it was “vital” that people involved in purchasing a property pay close attention to detail when transferring significant funds for a home deposit.
He added that home buyers should be “very suspicious” if they receive two emails from the same email address asking for payment.
“If you have purchased a home and receive an email from the estate agent with trust account details to make payment, call the agent or visit them in person to verify that the email is legitimate,” Mr Cohen said.
Any business or individual who believes they have been tricked into paying money into an incorrect account are advised to contact their bank immediately.
Instances of cyber crime can be reported to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.