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Hear the latest weekly insights into the property market via podcast by Rich Harvey, CEO and founder of Propertybuyer.

 
Sun 23 Jun '24 with Rich Harvey Why Tax Depreciation Matters
 
 
Fri 14 Jun '24 with Rich Harvey Tax Effective Property Investment Strategies
 
 
Fri 24 May '24 with Rich Harvey Granny Flats: Boost Your Yields & Faster Mortgage Repayments
 
 
Fri 3 May '24 with Rich Harvey Unpacking the Northern Beaches with Incredible Agents
 
 
Fri 29 Mar '24 with Rich Harvey How to build a $7 Million Property Portfolio from scratch
 
 
Sat 16 Mar '24 with Rich Harvey Why Invest in Melbourne?
 

 

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How to Avoid Getting Scammed – and catching them in the act - July 2024

July 11, 2024 / Written by Sarah Megginson

 

By Guest Blogger, Sarah Megginson

Money expert & media spokesperson | Head of Editorial, Finder

Deepfakes, bad actors, phishers and scammers: these terms and concepts barely existed a few years ago. 

But now, big scams are big business. If you own your own home or you invest in property, there are countless ways you could be swindled when buying, selling or engaging with professional services – and you need to know about the latest fraud trends and scams that are robbing people of their cash and wealth. 

In 2023, Australians lost over $2.7 billion to fraudsters – and that’s just the scams that were reported. Experts estimate the real figure could be twice as high.

So what can you do about it? 

I recently attended the Money 20/20 conference in Bangkok, where I heard from some of the smartest minds in the finance and tech industries. They shared the latest trends around AI, fraud and scams, and one thing was clear…

Getting scammed is a matter of when, not if. 

Personally, I’ve been scammed twice in the last 12 months – both credit card transactions, and both were discovered by the bank before me and were fully refunded – and I’ve been the victim of an attempted scam literally dozens of times. 

It's going to be increasingly easy to get scammed when investing or engaging in property transactions, as fraudsters are getting even more creative with their methods. 

Phishing is a big one to be aware of when owning and transacting property. 
It’s the practice of sending emails or text messages that purport to be from reputable companies, with a goal of inducing you to reveal personal information, like passwords and credit card numbers, or to convince you to .

Phishing is similar to a “redirection scam”, where criminals pose as a genuine business that you’ve recently dealt with, then they send fake invoices with altered payment details so the money ends up with the scammer. The ACCC warns that last year, Australians reported losing $16.2 million to payment redirection scams.

To avoid this happening to you, if you’re transferring a sum of money related to a property transaction, and you’ve received a direction to change the payment details in any way, shape or form, pick up the phone and call the recipient for confirmation. 

One simple phone call could save you from transferring money into the wrong hands – and once you’ve made that payment, there’s no recovering it from the bank, as you willingly (albeit unknowingly) approved the payment.  

Deepfakes are causing deep harm

Another huge area of growth in the scam world is "deepfakes", which are videos or audio recordings that manipulate or recreate a person's likeness. 

Someone creating a deepfake can make the person in the footage or audio do or say something they never did. The goal is to convince you you're doing business with someone you know, when it's actually a "bad actor" trying to steal your money. 

Pavel Goldman Kalaydin, the Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with identity verification specialists Sumsub, says the rate of change happening with deepfakes is alarming. 

“Deepfakes are like the current day Nigerian Prince email scam. Most people won’t fall for it. But some people will!” he says.

“Every month we get a new AI model, so every month the detectors we have developed break. We’re constantly training, every single month. I create deepfakes from any and every tool available, because I need to know what’s available to others.”  

In one recent case in Hong Kong, a group of criminals used deepfake technology to convince a finance employee he was in a zoom meeting with his board of directors – and he then transferred the equivalent of around AU$38m to the fraudsters. According to police, the worker was initially suspicious, but the people in attendance looked and sounded just like colleagues he recognised, so he processed the transfer.

Deepfakes are still developing, so you’re less likely to encounter this type of scam in your day-to-day life now, but it pays to be aware of the threats on the horizon – bacause as these scams continue to evolve, as consumers, we need to take steps to protect ourselves.

What we can’t do: rely on banks to bail us out

We have to be even more vigilant, because the banks are not stepping in to bail us out. Last year, ASIC reported that major bank scams affected over 31,000 people at a cost of a whopping $550m. 

The amount that banks paid out in reimbursements, however, was extremely low – just 2 to 5%.

That means 95% of people who lost money to scams never got it back. 

And of course, I haven’t even touched on the traditional types of property scams that have been around for decades…

Like the scammer who claims to be a professional buyer’s agent, but they’re actually just trying to sell one specific development (and they’re getting kickbacks for every sale). 

Or the “agents” who constantly call, harass and pressure you to make fast decisions.

Or the ones who claim they’re associated with a reputable, well-known organisation, but you can’t find proof.

With almost all scams, the best protection is… time. 

Scammers rely on pressure tactics to force you to take action, so if in doubt about any type of request or transaction…

Pause. 

Take a deep breath. 

Tell the person you will call them back.

Ask a trusted friend or relative for advice. 

Take some heat out of the moment by pausing to really, truly assess what is being asked of you, then make a clear-headed decision. Prevention is better than cure, and taking proactive steps to arm yourself against these cyber criminals is more crucial than ever. 

Sarah Megginson is a personal finance expert at Finder and regular media commentator, with over 20 years' experience in property and finance journalism. She holds ASIC RG146-compliant Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification and as a mother of three, Sarah is passionate about helping the next generation understand how to earn, invest and manage money.

 

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The Propertybuyer
Podcast

 
Sun 23 Jun '24
with Rich Harvey
Why Tax Depreciation Matters
 
 
Fri 14 Jun '24
with Rich Harvey
Tax Effective Property Investment Strategies
 
 
Fri 24 May '24
with Rich Harvey
Granny Flats: Boost Your Yields & Faster Mortgage Repayments
 
 
Fri 3 May '24
with Rich Harvey
Unpacking the Northern Beaches with Incredible Agents
 
 
Fri 29 Mar '24
with Rich Harvey
How to build a $7 Million Property Portfolio from scratch
 
 
Sat 16 Mar '24
with Rich Harvey
Why Invest in Melbourne?
 

 

Listen to many more
podcasts on our
Podcasts page.