Scammers steal over $300,000 from real estate agent trust account
- Real estate agent lost $329,500 to remote access bank scam
- Scammers posed as bank on phone and knew latest transactions in the account
- Agents urged to not give out access codes or allow remote access
Consumer Protection is warning the real estate and settlement industries to be extra vigilant to calls from their bank after scammers successfully stole $329,500 from a WA real estate agent’s trust account last week.
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 a software the victim was asked to download and then handed a remote access code over to the scammers.
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.
This warning comes after scammers 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.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake is reminding agents to always use due care and skill, including being alert and aware of scammers.
“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,” Ms Blake said.
“What’s concerning about these latest scams, is that the scammers know the last few transactions on the accounts which makes 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.
“I am urging all agents to be exceptionally wary of any calls of this nature.
“If you have been approached and managed to avoid being scammed, please let Consumer Protection know so we can investigate and alert other agents.”
Consumer Protection is working with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), REIWA and the Australian Institute of Conveyancers WA (AICWA) to address this emerging trend of scammers specifically targeting agents. The ACCC are working with the big four banks to identify how scammers are accessing accounts.
If you think you have lost money to a scam, immediately call your bank to see if the payment can be retrieved and report it to Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet team by calling 1300 30 40 54 or complete a scam report on the website.
Media Contact: Jasmine Sidhu, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / email@example.com
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