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A NSW couple have lost close to $275,000 in an elaborate scam after receiving an email requesting they settle the amount for their first home. 

Simon Elvins and his wife had spent 10 years saving for their first home and were excited after buying a property in the Blue Mountains in NSW. 

Mr Elvins received an email from someone he thought was his conveyancer, which detailed the purchase of the couple’s home. 

The email had the correct details of the new property and also requested the couple pay $274,311.57 to finalise the upcoming settlement.

Trust account details for the payment were also included, including BSB and an account name matching the conveyancer company Mr Elvins had hired. 

Simon Elvins (pictured) and his wife lost close to $270,000 after he was emailed an invoice scam advising him to pay the upcoming settlement of their first home

Mr Elvin sent two transactions as the amount was too large to transfer in one go and waited to hear back from his conveyancer. 

However, after not receiving a response he sent an email to his conveyancer and real estate agent who informed him that they never received the settlement payment and gave him the correct account details. 

‘It all looked fine. So I paid it in two amounts, because the amount was too large to do in one go,’ Mr Elvin said. 

‘And I thought, ‘this account doesn’t look the same as the last one. Maybe they’ve got two accounts’… the realisation that we had been scammed became quite clear.’ 

After realising he had been scammed, Mr Elvin contacted Westpac immediately, who then contacted NAB, which was the bank of the scammers’ account. 

However, it had already been a week since the second transfer and almost all of Mr Elvin’s money was gone, with the pair receiving just $270.72 back.

Mr Elvin believes the scammers hacked into the conveyancer’s email to create the fraudulent invoice. 

Data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch shows invoice scams are on the rise in Australia. 

The invoice scam focus on big purchases including renovations, properties and cars, with Aussies losing about $23million  between January and September this year.

Aussies reported 28,617 false billing scams in the same period – a 95 per cent increase compared with the previous year.

Consumer advocates are calling for banks to introduce a ‘confirmation of payee’ policy to help stop hackers from issuing fake invoices.  

After transferring the amount he waited to hear back from his conveyancer. However, after not receiving a response he sent an email to his conveyancer and real estate agent who informed him that they never received the settlement payment

In Australia, under the Bulk Electronic Clearing System (BECS), money is transferred regardless of whether the correct account name is used. 

Senior policy officer at the Consumer Action Law Centre Tom Abourizk said banks do not check whether the account name matches the account number even though customers are asked to fill in both details. 

Some banks have started to introduce their own systems to prevent invoice scamming. 

This year, Commonwealth Bank introduced NameCheck – a policy which highlights the differences between account details and names. 

Westpac did not comment on the Elvins’ case but said the bank detects 60 per cent of scams.

‘When funds are unable to be retrieved, reimbursement is considered on a case-by-case basis with a range of factors taken into account,’ Westpac said.

Mr Elvin and his wife were able to settle on their house and not lose their $100,000 deposit. 

Aussies have reported 28,617 false billing scams from January to September 2023, resulting in about $23million lost – a 95 per cent increase compared to the same period last year

However, they had to take out lenders mortgage insurance and increase their mortgage, resulting in an extra $2,000 in monthly repayments.  

Aussies are urged to call a company or person asking for money to check their bank details match before making a payment in order to avoid being scammed. 

Customers are also advised to use the PayID transfer system as it reveals a bank account holder’s name.

ScamWatch advises those who believe they have been scammed should contact their bank, report the scam to the ACCC and notify the relevant website of the scammer’s profile name and details. 

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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