Police have stopped a potential scam in its tracks.

Would-be scammer arrested in Nigeria

No doubt you’ve heard about the recent arrest of a man in Nigeria over the attempted fraudulent sale of a property in Western Australia.

For those who haven’t, here’s a quick overview: Last Thursday, Consumer Protection and WA Police announced that a man had been apprehended by Nigerian authorities while attempting to collect settlement documents in relation to the settlement of a home in Falcon, WA.

Police became aware of the would-be scammer when suspicions were raised by the staff of a Mandurah real estate agency. The agency had been contacted by someone posing as the owner of one of their rental properties, who asked that their contact details be changed, before requesting that the property be sold.

The arrest followed an eight-month investigation by the Major Fraud Squad, and it shows that property scam attempts are far from over. It’s evident that fraudsters still view Western Australia as a target for property scams.

While our police force have made excellent progress in preventing scams before they occur, it’s vital that settlement agents and real estate agents alike remain vigilant.

In addition to the mandated ID checks for sellers, there are various warning signs that can alert agents to a possible scam attempt. For example, when dealing with an overseas seller, we make a habit of conversationally asking questions that only the real owner would know. For an agent, those questions might be about council rates, strata levies, and details of the house such as floor coverings or the colour of the walls.

Visit the Consumer Protection website for more tips on stopping property fraud in its tracks. By remaining vigilant, agents and settlement agents can ensure that no more properties are sold without their owner’s knowledge.

Do you have any advice for stopping property scams before they occur? Leave a comment below.

Image by Dave Conner via Flickr.