26 September 2023

New scam hits homes and real estates

Start the conversation

Consumer Protection is warning the real estate and settlement industries to be extra vigilant about calls from their banks after scammers successfully stole $329,500 from a real estate agent’s trust account.

The victim received a phone call from scammers posing as their bank and was asked to verify some recent transactions on the account.

The scammers then requested remote access to the computer via software the victim was asked to download and then handed a remote access code over to the scammers.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Trish Blake said the scammers were able to conduct a range of transactions from various trust accounts while on the phone to the victim via remote access before the real bank called to alert the victim to possible fraudulent activity.

“Scammers also lured another WA real estate agent and two settlement agents into transferring large amounts of funds from their trust accounts last month, totalling $64,468,” Ms Blake said.

“Never assume that a call from your bank is actually your bank — hang up and call them back on a legitimate number from their website or a bank statement.”

She said what concerned her about the latest scams was that the scammers knew the last few transactions on the accounts, which made them sound very convincing.

“Don’t fall victim to this elaborate and sophisticated scam. Your bank will never ask you to give out passcodes or request remote access your computer, so please do not hand this information over to someone you don’t know over the phone,” Ms Blake said.

“If you have been approached and managed to avoid being scammed, please let Consumer Protection know so we can investigate and alert other agents.”

She said Consumer Protection was working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia and the Australian Institute of Conveyancers WA to address this emerging trend of scammers specifically targeting agents.

“The ACCC is working with the big four banks to identify how scammers are able to access accounts,” Ms Blake said.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.