Losses to payment redirection scams skyrocket

  • Payment redirection scam losses already exceed 2023 figure
  • Consumers advised to call business to confirm bank account details


Western Australians are being urged to be vigilant of payment redirection scams with losses this year already exceeding figures from 2023.


A WA man lost $153,950 as a result of the scam after scammers intercepted emails between him and his settlement agent in relation to the purchase of a property.


The scammers sent the buyer a fake email pretending to be the settlement agent, swapping the bank account details to one they control. The victim did not notice a slight difference in the email address.


Known as ‘payment redirection’ scams, these stings often target high value financial transactions such as real estate and vehicle purchases, and business contracts. The fraudsters behind this scam hack into email accounts and get information about financial transactions underway.


The scammers may appear to take control of the business' email address or create a new, almost identical, email address that is difficult to distinguish from the original. This scam particularly targets victims who may be expecting a message requesting payment and are less likely to question it.


Eleven WA victims have reported losing a total of $503,285 so far this year to payment redirection scams. This exceeds the $501,028 lost by 29 victims in 2023.


While property transactions are most often targeted, Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet team has also seen vehicle purchases, building contracts and even a funeral payment targeted by these crooks.


Tips to protect against payment redirection scam include verifying the sender of emails requesting payments or calling the sender to confirm the authenticity of the request.


More information about scams is available on the WA ScamNet website where online scam reports can be lodged.


Comments attributed to Commerce Minister Sue Ellery:


“The large losses from these scams are extremely devastating to the victims. They can be people who have been saving for years for a home deposit that has now been lost to scammers or it could be a business doing it tough that can least afford to lose a large amount of money.

“People working in the industries where large amounts of money are being transacted and consumers need to be extra vigilant when acting on payment requests.


“Be suspicious of any email asking for a payment of money or advising of a change in bank account details to where payments are to be sent. We also ask that businesses warn their clients or contractors and train their staff to be scam aware.”

Consumer Protection
Media release
11 Jul 2024

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