The threat to the property market by fraudsters and scammers is very real and it seems the culprits are becoming increasingly advanced. The age of technology presents many with the opportunity to improve their business growth and market penetration. However, the evolution of technology continues to present fraudsters with more abundant opportunities to scam innocent people out of their hard earned cash.
There appears to be a rise in illegal activity related to the property market with scammers trying to intercept property payments, partly due to the high value of the amounts being paid. This is a very serious concern and the property market has to be extremely vigilant. All stakeholders have the responsibility to educate their clients and community on the dangers of this activity and ensure all the proper precautions have been put in place to counter these scammers.
In the past few months several conveyancing attorneys have issued stern warnings to real estate agents urging them to ensure these warning messages and security steps are transferred to the client.
Scammers are replicating email addresses that closely resemble that of the conveyancing attorney and others in the property market. They then strategically monitor and maneuver communication during the transaction process to identify opportunities to intercept important financial information.
It is imperative that buyers and sellers take care and cognizance of any behaviour raising red flags. The classic random email requesting you to change your banking information should immediately be taken very seriously. Contact your banking institution and inform them of the message.
Similarly, diligently read the emails and email addresses to and fro the relevant role-players during your property transaction. If any emails are suspicious and continually pressurizing you to make payment, make contact with your agent or attorney and ensure the communication has originated from them.
Establishing a good line of communication between yourself, conveyancing attorney and real estate agent assists greatly in mitigating these risks. Before making substantial payments double check all the information with your company representatives and follow up consistently on documentation requests.
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer