Aussie man loses $150k in scam

A man lost more than $150,000 during a property settlement.
A man lost more than $150,000 during a property settlement.

A man has lost more than $153,000 during a property settlement after scammers intercepted emails between him and his settlement agent.

The scammers sent the West Australia man an email pretending to be his settlement agent, then swapped the bank account details to their own.

The victim did not notice the email address was slightly different.

The scam has prompted authorities to issue an alert warning people to be aware of payment redirection scams that have already exceed losses from last year.

Surprised Senior man working with laptop.
Eleven people in Western Australia have lost more than $500,000 to payment redirection scams this year.

In WA, 11 people have reported losing more than $500,000 this year to payment redirection scams.

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

ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said Australians lost $16.2m to payment redirection scams last year.

“We know of an Australian man who lost more than $35,000 after scammers compromised the email account of the car dealership he was buying a car from,” she said.

Another man lost $35,000 through a payment redirection scam and only found out when he went to pick up his new car.
Another man lost $35,000 through a payment redirection scam and only found out when he went to pick up his new car.

“After paying the deposit securely through the dealership’s official website, he received an email with an invoice for the remaining amount owed which he paid thinking it was genuine.

“When he went to pick up his new car, he found out that the invoice was a scam and the dealership had only received his deposit.”

Payment redirection scams often target high value transactions where fraudsters hack into email accounts and get information about financial transactions that are under way.

The scammers create a new, almost identical email address that is difficult to identify from the original and other times appear to take control of the business’s email address.

This scam targets victims who may be expecting a message requesting payment and are less likely to question it.

JASON CLARE PRESSER
Commerce Minister Minister Sue Ellery said large losses to payment redirection scams were extremely devastating to the victims. Picture: NewsWire / Gary Ramage

WA Commerce Minister Sue Ellery said the large losses from these scams were 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,” she said.

“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.”