SA Police warn public about real estate scam

The purchase of real estate can involve significant sums of money, with recent evidence revealing that scammers are using bogus emails to steal money from South Australians.

SA Police have received reports over the last six months where scammers have used bogus email details to pose as both agents and conveyancers in order to obtain money fraudulently.

Police say unfortunately, ‘business email compromise’ scams can target a range of people, businesses and industries, with scammers creating false email domain names that look legitimate, then providing the victim with altered banking details for a deposit or payment to be made into.

In some cases the scammers have contacted the victim advising that a company’s banking details have changed, providing the ‘new’ information on an official-looking email.

This week an incident was reported to police where a victim was advised of banking details for a real estate company into which they transferred a significant deposit for a property.

It later transpired the email providing the details was from a scammer, and the money had since been transferred from the account it was initially paid into.

Last year it was reported that property buyers in SA had been defrauded by scammers using bogus details to pose as conveyancers.

Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Bolingbroke, from the SA Police Major Fraud Investigation Section, says scammers will often target businesses which deal in a large number of transactions involving significant sums of money, which includes the real estate industry.

“This type of crime can have a terrible impact for the victims with large sums of money involved, so we remind the community to be vigilant with their personal and business transactions,” he said.

How to avoid the scam:

  • Treat phone calls, emails or letters from a supplier seeking a change to the bank account details you use to pay them, with caution.
  • Use the correct, independently verified number from the supplier’s website, or the one you have on file, to call a known contact directly to confirm if the request is legitimate.
  • If emailing, type the known email address in the ‘to’ section rather than replying to an email received – scammers often use a very similar email address but with a different suffix or domain name.
  • Know that a BSB search, which can easily be done online, will reveal details about a bank account you have been asked to send to.
  • Remember words you enter in the free text when conducting bank transfers have no bearing on the transaction – ie writing the name of the account holder does not mean it is that company’s bank account, it can belong to scammers posing as a company.
  • Be aware that scammers have also been known to hack Chief Executive officers’ and managers’ email accounts, then send email authorisation to junior officers for the transfer of money into an account controlled by the offenders.

For further information visit or to report a cybercrime and online incidents which may be in breach of Australian Law. This can be done through the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) - certain reports will then be directed to Australian Law enforcement and government agencies for further investigation.