Arrest in Nigeria over WA real estate fraud attempt

Arrest in Nigeria over WA real estate fraud attempt

Posted on Friday, August 16 2013 at 1:04 PM

Imagine if someone tried to steal your house and you knew nothing about it! That’s what happened to a Western Australia landlord who was renting out his property in Falcon, roughly 50 kilometres south of Perth.

A Nigerian man
allegedly contacted the property manager in December 2012, purporting to be the
owner of the home, and requested documents relating to the rented property,
which were sent to him. He then used a Yahoo email address in the name of one
of the real owners, who is a Johannesburg resident, and requested that all
future correspondence be forwarded to the new email address and all phone
contact be made through a new number.

In January, 2013,
the agency received a request to sell the property and a sales agreement with
false signatures was completed. Fake passports of the two owners were also sent
to the agent, as well as a forged document from the Australian High Commission.

suspicions were raised by staff at the agency, who had attended an anti-fraud
education seminar, and they contacted police.

With the help of
detectives, the agency then faked a sale of the property and were told to
deposit $785,000 into a bank account in southeast Asia.

This helped WA
police and the Australian Federal Police track the alleged offender down in
Nigeria. He was apprehended by Nigerian authorities when he attended an
international courier office and attempted to collect documents with a forged
driver’s licence.

WA police detective
senior sergeant Dom Blackshaw says landlords should keep up to date with their
property managers and obtain regular statements from them.

are continuing into other people who may be involved and also into whether
there are links between this case and the two successful and five attempted
frauds reported in WA over the past five years,” he says.

“Six of the seven
cases involved owners who live in South Africa, have investment properties in
Perth, which are rented, and have had their identities stolen.

“We’re not
exactly sure how the offenders come to know about the South African-based
owners and their investment properties, but it would appear they’re somehow
intercepting correspondence between the owners and their agent in Perth. This
could be physically by intercepting letters sent through the postal service, or
electronically by owners having their email account, or perhaps their
computers, hacked.”

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