Cases of email fraud are becoming more common in property settlement scams throughout Australia, making it crucial for Conveyancers to protect their clients by using more secure settlement agencies.
I recently read the story of a woman who was scammed out of more than $700,000 after falling prey to an email scam which could have been prevented with the use of an established and secure settlement agency service.
I believe this is a crucial learning moment for the industry I’d like to share.
The Western Australian woman was in the process of buying a property when she transferred $730,000 to scammers posing as her settlement agent in an email.
According to reports from news.com.au, the woman was in the process of buying a property in Perth when she received an email from who she thought was her settlement agent, asking for money to be deposited into a bank account prior to settlement.
The woman told reporters there were “authentic-looking documents” attached. Scammers used a generic Hotmail email address using the agency’s name and bank account details to an account they had control of.
In a similar case earlier this year, Cassie and Dennis Aviles handed more than $1.1 million to who they believed was their solicitor in order to finalise the sale of their new house, as reported by 9news.com.au.
The couple sold their previous home and were due to settle on a new home the following week when they received what appeared to be a legitimate email from their solicitor asking for the transfer of funds.
According to reports, Ms Aviles alerted her solicitor she’d paid the money into the alleged firm’s Commonwealth Bank account. The solicitor immediately told the couple to call the bank to stop the transfer. Fortunately, both banks froze the transfer and returned it to the couple.
The scam employed by the hackers is known as payment redirection or “man in the middle” scam.
It involves scammers pretending to be a legitimate company and seeking payment. The sophisticated scam is often impossible to tell apart from the real thing.
How Conveyancers can prevent scams
Despite their prevalence today, scams like these can be easily prevented by the Licensed Conveyancer when they outsource Settlements to a secure service like triSettle.
Using an eConveyancing tool like triSettle allows triSearch to act on your practice’s behalf to complete your manual or electronic settlements.
By using triSettle, all the administrative roles of the settlement are completed by experienced settlement agents while you continue to approve everything and provide professional services to your client.
As an increased measure of security, these experienced triSettle agents use the Securexchange service when exchanging documents and funds.
Using Securechange, your client exchanges funds through a secure platform. This means your clients will never be asked for funds to be transferred through email, meaning, they will be protected from any email scams.
Furthermore, your client’s funds are protected up to $1,000,000 when trust or bank details are securely shared within the Securexchange platform.
To ensure you’re receiving the best service available, triSettle also recently received a 12 benefit upgrade to its services, providing you more flexibility than ever before.
Additionally, users of the all-in-one conveyancing software, triConvey, can free share documents and message securely with access to Communicate.
Communicate is a secure file sharing and messaging platform, that allows you to keep your conversations secure and keep your team up to speed. The communications tool can be used to message internally to other staff or to other firms.
To ensure your communication within the app remains safe, the tool is equipped with:
- Two Factor authentication – two-factor authentication is required to gain access to information.
- Data Encryption – Messages are encrypted and unable to be intercepted by third parties while they are in transit.
- Device/ IP Address memory – Once two-factor authentication is complete, Communicate will remember your device and unless you are logging in using a trusted device, you will be required to identify yourself again.
- Security monitoring – Communicate uses Auth0 technology for its secure login. This technology constantly monitors for unknown identities trying to gain access.
- Terminated access – If your device has been compromised, you have the ability completely remove access to a conversation.
To learn more about how triSettle can protect your clients and speed up your transactions, book a free demonstration today.