Masterchef finalist robbed
Recently there has been a great deal of focus in the news on Cyber Hackers and criminals attacking property transactions. Last week Masterchef finalist Dani Venn’s family made the headlines when their conveyancers PEXA (Property Exchange Australia) account was hacked. Dani featured on A Current Affair reporting the horror story to the nation.
Hacking into email accounts
The facts of the matter are that cyber criminals have been attempting, and on a few occasions with success, to compromise the integrity of conveyancing transactions in Australia by hacking into conveyancer’s email accounts. This started around 12 months ago where the issue first began with the hackers intercepting emails that conveyancers send to their clients and requesting funds to be transferred into bank accounts that are not the conveyancers trust account.
Guidelines for prevention
The AIC (Australian Institute of Conveyancers) has been quick to inform conveyancers, and their firms, of the occurrences and provided guidelines to prevent the danger occurring, but sadly some have slipped through the cracks.
The situation which occurred with Dani Venn’s transaction, was that the hacker had intercepted emails between the conveyancer and PEXA and had managed to change their login details for PEXA and create a new user for their account, essentially opening up the opportunity for the hacker to change details, including bank account numbers, for the payments.
The most effective way that a conveyancer can protect their clients and themselves is to be vigilant in email communication and to only respond to email addresses that are known to them personally, also ensuring that they do not accept requests to send read receipts to unknown persons. It is also important that the email host has an SSL Certificate to protect an organisations details. A website has an SSL Certificate if the URL starts with “https” rather than “http”.
Protecting our clients
At Robbins Conveyancing we also advise our clients that we will never provide our trust account details, nor request bank account details from our clients, in an email or any attachments. This is one of the first conversations that we have with our clients and it is very important that this information is communicated personally. Robbins Conveyancing also provide our clients with the option to have their settlement complete via the “old fashioned” method of paper settlement with bank cheques, as this is often the preferred method.
We understand that buying and selling a house is one of the biggest stages in your life and we take care of our client’s transactions as if they were our own.
If you have any concerns we encourage you to speak to your conveyancer or contact us directly on 08 8490 0797.