Beware of Real Estate Hacking Attacks

Hacking attempts are not just a problem for large corporations. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are equal opportunists, a fact which has been corroborated by the recent real estate hacks. The Australian real estate industry is valued at approximately $14 billion, which makes it a tempting target for these criminals.

Consumer Affairs Victoria reported that a few of the state’s homebuyers were victimised in an email scam and they lost over $200,000. The buyers said that they received emails containing contracts of sale and trust account details for the payment of their deposits. This first email was then followed by another email, which instructed the hapless buyers that there was an error in the original email and that they should deposit their funds in an alternate account. These criminals hacked the real estate agents’ email accounts and used the second round of emails to divert the funds to their bank accounts.

Unfortunately a similar case of virtual fraud occurred in the real estate sector last May. The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales reported that a real estate agency’s online bank account was hacked and $757,000 was siphoned away in a series of transfers.

There are significant losses associated with such cyber hacks. Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, Simon Cohen advises that persons who are purchasing their homes do their due diligence before making deposit payments. He recommends that buyers beware of emails that give different banking information. In fact, it is always best for buyers to call their real estate agents to verify all payment details before transferring any funds. Any individual or business that discovers that payment was made to an incorrect account should contact their respective financial institutions immediately. Furthermore, real estate agencies are encouraged to regularly review and secure all online systems to rebuff any hacking attacks. If you become a victim of cybercrime, we recommend that you make a formal report to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.

We all operate in a globally connected world and we face increasing threats. Therefore it is prudent to adopt the best cybersecurity practices to protect ourselves and our assets.

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