The international raiders that often appear in our inbox spam, can strike when you least expect it. I don’t know how they know, but they seem to know our clients, our managers and those who can authorise the payment of money.
This week I heard of a rich raider who struck at a Real Estate Agent. The Agent was holding a 10% deposit, which was $250,000.00. On the day of settlement, the Agent received an email from the Vendor providing a new account for the release of the deposit. The Agent duly complied with the email request.
What we have now found out is that, the Vendor’s emails were infiltrated by an overseas raider and had the money transferred into a local account in Australia. Within minutes of the money hitting the account, it had been transferred into another account somewhere on the African continent. There is no way of retrieving the money.
The Agent broke the cardinal rule! If you receive a change of account, it would always be confirmed by telephone. Ring the number you always have, not a new number, and confirm with the Vendor or the Landlord of the new account number. This phone call would have protected the Vendor and the Agent.
This has resulted in a number of other problems for the Agent; first, the insurance company has rejected the claim finding that it is Vendors error. This means that, the Vendor will sue the Agent direct. Secondly, the Agent’s insurer has held that it is not professional negligence. The Agent is therefore going to be out of pocket.
Thirdly, this is a trust account defalcation. The Property and Stock Regulation 2014 require an Agent to report themselves when any ledger is overdrawn. The Agent now has to dob itself into Fair Trading.
It would have taken one phone call to save this Agent the potential of paying a quarter of a million dollars.