Feeds

ID fraudsters sell stolen Aus house

There goes the neighbourhood

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Arts and crafts store Michaels says 3 million credit cards exposed in breach
Meanwhile, Target investigators prepare for long process in nabbing hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.