Property Scams

Michele from Tweed Heads has asked us a question…

[blockquote]”I have listed my investment duplex in QLD for sale. The agent I chose emailed me the paperwork, I signed it all and emailed it back to him. I have heard about scammers selling a house not belonging to them, can this happen to me.”[/blockquote]

Michele, there are scams involving properties where the owner is overseas or interstate, they return to find the property has been sold and a lengthy process is ahead of them as there is usually no money and no trail. Usually these properties are tenanted with overseas owners.


The property scams have occurred in Western Australia, and an incident in the ACT case which is believed to have occurred in recent months. So they are still out there.

Property owners are being advised to regularly check their property managers have their current and correct contact details, set up a password or secret question with their agent and ensure the agent has a process to verify requests to change contact details by sending notifications to both the old and new addresses, including electronic and physicals held by the agent, I you privately rent your property, constant contact with the tenants is advisable.

We need to ensure suspicions are raised of instances where there may have been a recent change of address or contact details close to a request to sell a property as well as requests for future correspondence to be done through a new email address or phone number.
They should also be wary when new email addresses are generic ones such as from Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail, or if there are requests for funds to be sent to a different bank account. Look out for strange grammar, misspelling and unusual language in any correspondence.

Other warning signs include transactions involving people or documents issued overseas or that a sale is urgent.

Agents are also warned that scammers might try to persuade them that if the sale is successful or quick, they will receive future work or other incentives.

The OFT has also advised agents to conduct a minimum 100-point identity check. The checks should be done face-to-face where possible or in cases where the seller might be overseas, they should have documents sighted at an Australian embassy. So if your agent asks your for your id, please don’t be offended. We are looking after your best interests.

Agents are also advised to verify the seller’s identity with original documents as well as legal ownership of the property from an original or certified copy of a primary ownership document, such as a property titles, current rates or land tax notice.

If there are any doubts about documents, agents should verify them with the issuing authority.

Vigilance is the key, keep in regular contact with any agencies involved in the selling or management of investment properties but also, don’t be afraid to ask for photo id of anyone you are suspicious of and ensure your agent is on the ball with ensuring he knows who has access to your home.