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Lawyers and buyers unaware of property fraud scams

Nearly half of all property lawyers are unaware of the latest property fraud schemes targeting unsuspecting buyers, according to a GlobalX survey of Australia’s top legal professionals.

This week is National Scams Awareness Week and conveyancing technology experts GlobalX surveyed 170 property law and conveyancing professionals and found 46 per cent of respondents were unaware of the latest phishing scams targeting property investors and home buyers.

GlobalX CEO Peter Maloney said scammers hacked conveyancers’ client lists, impersonated them and emailed their clients to advise them the property trust account details had changed so clients would transfer property purchase funds into a fraudulent account.

“Conveyancers need to be aware and so do property buyers,” Mr Maloney said.

“This survey highlights the importance of lawyers and conveyancers knowing more about what risks they, and their clients, can face and providing advice to their clients as to how they can protect themselves.”

This research comes after last year’s incidents in South Australia and Western Australia, where eight Australians fell victim to this and were defrauded millions of dollars.

“We advise all property lawyers and conveyancers to inform their clients about scams and let them know that they would never contact them via email to change such crucial financial details as property trust account details,” Mr Maloney said.

Australian Institute of Conveyancers President Shane Jacob echoed the call for all involved in the property purchase process to be diligent.

“It is vital that buyers and conveyancers become more informed. If you receive an email that you think is suspicious, buyers should be calling their conveyancer to confirm it is legitimate,” Mr Jacob said.

“Scammers are getting smarter, so property buyers and their legal representation need to be aware in order to protect themselves.”

Resource kits providing information about the latest online threats and how to respond to them are available on the Stay Smart Online website.