Feeds

ID fraudsters sell stolen Aus house

There goes the neighbourhood

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Australian authorities have launched an investigation after Nigerian fraudsters sold a house using email and fax, leaving the legitimate property owner A$500,000 out of pocket in the process.

Roger Mildenhall, a resident in South Africa who owned a set of investment properties in Western Australia as an absentee landlord, only narrowly averted the sale of a second property after he flew thousands of miles to block the fraudulent transaction.

Fraudsters swiped Mildenhall's email login credentials and obtained personal property documents before selling a house and sending funds to Chinese bank accounts. The scammers hoodwinked real estate agents, banks and local land registrars.

Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) spokesman Brian Greig said the transactions were initiated by a mixture of email, telephone and fax without the physical presence of the owner.

"Agents report an increasing trend that more and more transactions are done without face-to-face interaction, particularly with overseas and interstate buyers," Greig told zdnet.au, adding that the estate agents involved in the sale had followed the correct process.

He suggested that the techniques involved in the case were so sophisticated that simply applying improved identity checks would not be enough to prevent the possibility of similar frauds in future.

"They had a comprehensive understanding of how transactions take place and of the legal processes. If they are sophisticated as they seem to be, identity checks will not be enough — they can forge them."

Mildenhall only learned of the scam, seemingly by chance, after he contacted by a former neighbour last week, just in time to stop the finalisation of the sale of a house. Another house owned by Mildenhall was sold in June.

Australian police have launched an investigation into the scam, unsurprisingly reckoned to be the first of its type in Australia. No possibilities have been ruled out at this early stage of the investigation.

Meanwhile the Western Australia's Real Estate and Business Agents Supervisory Board (REBA) and Settlement Agents Supervisory Board published an advisory on Monday warning about the apparent scam. It's unclear if the incident will prompt a rethink of the identity verification process used by real estate agents in Western Australia, but Consumer Protection Commissioner Anne Driscoll called for a review of every stage of the sale and transfer of title process. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.