THE state government’s move to strengthen codes of conduct in the property industry is credited with helping uncover three new real estate scams.
The WA Police’s major fraud squad is investigating attempts by suspected overseas scammers to defraud owners of properties in Belmont, Subiaco and Applecross.
In the most recent attempt, a person claiming to be the owner of a rental property contacted the manager of an Applecross agency requesting confidential information.
In another attempted scam, agents selling a Subiaco property received an offer of purchase in the form of a fake bank cheque of more than the asking price, in which the alleged scammer hoped the excess amount would be refunded and deposited into an overseas account.
A Belmont homeowner had their laptop hacked and information retrieved about their investment property.
The real estate agent was subsequently contacted with a request to have rental income diverted into an overseas bank account.
All three fraud attempts were uncovered when real estate agents acted in line with the new codes – introduced in October last year – that require agents to exercise greater care, skill and diligence when conducting identity checks.
Consumer Protection has made identity verification training mandatory for all agents.
Meanwhile an agent who failed to adhere to the new codes is facing disciplinary action after selling a Ballajura home last year.
Property agent John Samykannu – who traded as LJ Hooker Mirrabooka – is alleged to have failed to act in the best interests of the overseas owners of the home and not contacted them when an individual, who turned out to be a scammer, asked him to sell the property.
The owners discovered they had been defrauded when they returned to Perth to inspect the property in August and found it had been sold. Proceeds from the sale of almost $400,000 had been sent to a bank account in China.
The Department of Commerce has begun disciplinary action against the agent by lodging an application with the State Administrative Tribunal to hear the case.
The state government moved to strengthen codes of conduct as a result of this scam, and another in which a house in Karrinyup was sold while the owners were overseas.
Commerce Minister Simon O’Brien said fraudsters had been encouraged by the two successful scams, but agents acting in line with the new codes were to thank for thwarting subsequent attempts.