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How To Stay Safe From Property Fraud?

Particular issues of property fraud concern If there are matters regarding the Property of particular concern or importance to you or your financier then you should contact us so that we can determine whether a special condition is required and appropriate investigations can be made.  For example: Is the purchase subject to the sale of […]

How To Stay Safe From Property Fraud?

How To Stay Safe From Property Fraud?

By netmow - Oct 11, 2021 Property Law

Particular issues of property fraud concern

If there are matters regarding the Property of particular concern or importance to you or your financier then you should contact us so that we can determine whether a special condition is required and appropriate investigations can be made.  For example:

  1. Is the purchase subject to the sale of the Buyer’s existing property?

  2. Is payment of deposit by insurance bond or bank guarantee?

  3. Rights of termination if particular searches are adverse for example if an existing or proposed tunnel or abandoned mines are discovered beneath the Property.

Fraud, Identity Theft, and Hacking

There has been a recent increase in the number of attempted property fraud relating to real estate.

It is essential to the conveyancing process that you provide us with a range of private information.  Much of that information can be obtained by fraudsters and identity thieves from publicly available records or by hacking, phishing, or trolling through unsecured email transmissions.

Parties to a conveyance are targeted as the conveyancing process often requires the transfer of large quantities of money.

We will take steps, such as obtaining personal identification from you, to assist to minimise the risk of property fraud.

We recommend that you also take steps to minimise the risk that your personal information is fraudulently obtained by being cautious about all communication. This could include the following steps:

  1. Double-check that all money transfer requests are legitimately requested by our law practice or your financier – despite how legitimate the request may appear;

  2. Do not transfer any money to any account other than our trust account (at our request – details of which are in the To-Do List) or to your existing financier or mortgage accounts (at your financier’s request) – without first checking with us that the transfer is necessary for your transaction;

  3. If you are contacted by someone you don’t immediately personally recognise representing themselves to be from our law practice, your financier, or somehow linked to the transaction, ask the representative some historical questions about the transaction that you can be certain will verify that they are who they say they are;

  4. Avoid sending personal and sensitive information such as bank account numbers via email;

  5. Where instructions are requested or advice is provided via email, check with another form of communication.

Promises Made By the Seller or the Agent

Please tell us of any promises or warranties made to you by the Seller or the agent which are not contained in the Contract as soon as possible, as we may not be aware of them. There may be no protection for you in the Contract in relation to such issues.  Your options may be limited to:

  1. terminating under any applicable cooling-off period or some other contractual term (where applicable); or

  2. a claim for compensation.

Court action is expensive and if you are aggrieved by the misrepresentation it may be more cost-effective to terminate, if possible using any contractual rights if you have the opportunity.

Other Professionals

We suggest you seek advice about the purchase from  other professionals, including:

  1. an accountant – about the commercial viability, appropriate purchasing entity, tax considerations of the purchase, and (if applicable) compliance with your SMSF’s investment strategy;

  2. a valuer – to assure yourself that the price represents the market value of the Property; and

  3. a town planner – to assess planning compliance issues or give advice regarding proposed future development.

If the proposed lot includes vacant land, you might also consider seeking advice from:

  1. a surveyor – to survey the property to check for a boundary, area, and encroachment issues;

  2. a soil tester – if you are planning on building (particularly in a new estate) to assure yourself that the soil condition does not require any special construction requirements.
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