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Australia’s overheated property market has become a target for hackers — and they’re scamming millions

Online Scams

Australia’s overheated property market has become a target for hackers — and they’re scamming millions

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The scammers’ first email to Kelly and her husband arrived in the small hours of the night, when they were sleeping.

“Due to the ongoing bank audit on our account,” the email read, “please see attached our subsidiary trust account details for the payment of $25,000 deposit.”

The email address looked legitimate — it was the real estate agent’s.

Kelly and her husband, both young engineers and “tech savvy”, were at the pointy end of buying a house in Western Australia. 

And so the next day, Kelly’s husband sent their heard-earned home deposit to a scammer, and never saw that money again.

Property settlement scams are becoming more common as house prices rise and scammers turn their focus to the large and often lightly protected sums of money that prospective buyers are transferring to the trust accounts of real estate agents and conveyancers.

Known as “payment redirection”, it’s part of a category of scams called “business email compromise”, where criminals hack an employee’s email account and then, impersonating that employee, send a payment request, substituting their own bank account details.

The victims tend to be individual home buyers or small…

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