The NSW Department of Fair Trading has issued a warning to real estate agents about a scam Australia Taxation Office (ATO) letter that has been reported to the agency by a real estate agent in Lennox Head this week.
“It is a scam letter designed to harvest details from real estate agents about Australian properties they manage on behalf of non-residents,” commissioner Rod Stowe said.
“The scammers seek to assume the identities of non-residents and sell their properties without the real owners’ knowledge.”
The commissioner said the ATO had confirmed the scam to Fair Trading and that identical fake Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) letters have been sent to real estate agents in the United Kingdom since March last year.
A copy of the fake ATO letter is available on the Fair Trading website.
“People should ignore this letter and warn their colleagues and report incidences of the scam to Fair Trading,” Mr Stowe said.
“The HMRC and ATO signature on the scam letters is identical and in some places in the ATO letter, the scammers have failed to replace the HMRC references.
“These types of widely circulated scams are regularly sent to other international jurisdictions and the perpetrators often fail to change all the details.”