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  • Thomas Jreige

Email Scam. WA Woman loses $750,000 in Real Estate deal

Just when you thought settling a property would be as simple as hitting send in an email, cyber criminals are getting awfully sophisticated and want in on the action of your transaction.

The real estate industry is seeing a significant rise in financial scams relating to payment redirection through the issue of fake invoices for home settlements. These attacks are not only targeted at the real estate industry however but larger volumes of money can also be lost when purchasing a property.

In April 2022, a person lost approximately $750,000 when her email was compromised and authentic-looking documents were sent to her, requesting she deposit the money into a bank account prior to settlement. The scam was uncovered when the settlement agent reminded the buyers about making payment prior to the final inspection being performed. It was too late by then.

This type of attack is commonplace now in many industries and it starts with a cyber criminal impersonating sites that someone would trust and entering their credentials. Most people still use the same password across many accounts. Once a cyber criminal has your email password, it makes it so much easier for the criminal to hop into your Facebook, LinkedIn and other accounts to cause havoc.

Seven News reported that in 2021, 37 victims of these scams were reported with a total of over $1,000,000 with over $150,000 in losses involving property transactions. Only two victims are known to have recovered approximately $300,000 of their losses.

We could recommend several security improvements such as multifactor authentication, password management, new IT systems and even security awareness and training. These things have been offered and done to death to date by many people, yet the problem still remains. We are a click-happy society and the problem here is people, not technology.

If you notice any requests to change your bank account details in your email, chances are, this is a SCAM. Pick up the phone and call the real estate and your settlement agent and ask if this is legitimate. Don’t go on a whim and just reply to every email you receive.

Having a discussion with a security advisor, such as Cyber Cerberus would be beneficial for your business to really help you understand the real threat to your organisation. Every business is different and we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to problem-solving. It all starts with a conversation and 1-hour free consult with our Experts.

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