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Could this $1m property scam have been avoided?

By Staff Reporter
17 December 2021 | 10 minute read
Lee Bailie reb

Earlier this week, a woman faced court in Sydney over allegations she had fraudulently obtained $1 million during a property settlement – but according to Securexchange, it should never have happened.

The woman, who faced Parramatta Local Court on Tuesday (14 December) charged with two counts of recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime, is alleged to have pocketed the funds through a business email compromise scam conducted in June 2021.

According to reports, the incident saw a property purchaser deposit $1 million into a fake account during the settlement period of a property transaction, reportedly sourced from a compromised email address belonging to the purchaser’s lawyer. 

In September this year, REB reported on the rising number of business email compromise scams targeting the real estate and property sector. 

Lee Bailie, a spokesperson for Securexchange, said, “it frustrates me to hear about this recent $1 million property scam knowing there is a solution that exists today which could have prevented this from happening.

“In theory, we all know it is no longer safe to share sensitive information via email. However, email is the quickest and most commonly accepted way to share information, so hackers are becoming more and more skilled at targeting these types of communications.

“A property transaction is heavily targeted by cybercriminals because of the sheer volume and amounts transacted.

“Buyers and sellers should be able to turn to their real estate agent or lawyer and have confidence that this would never happen to them.”

Joel Davoren, the managing director of RE/MAX Australia, has weighed in on the issue, noting that “cyber security is a reality, and we need to think about how we address this serious issue together”.

As a partner of Securexchange, Mr Davoren said that “the reputation of our brand, our clients and their clients is very important”.

According to a statement from Securexchange, the transaction solution service provider has also been working closely with REB head coach and Real Estate Gym founder Tom Panos, the chief executive of REIQ Antonia Mercorella, and CEO of REINSW Tim McKibbin to try to increase agent awareness.

In 2021 alone, Securexchange has handled 32,000 property transactions, which offers a $1 million guarantee to users on all information shared through the platform.

Could this $1m property scam have been avoided?
Lee Bailie reb
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