PHOTO: Real estate agents in Western Australia have been warned

Scammers were able to clone a settlement agent’s Yahoo email address, and changed just one character, and were able to send a payment request for $48,000 to the buyer of a business.

The scammer controlled the bank details in the email, and because it looked genuine, the buyer paid the money.

Another client of the same agent had a similar situation. And as a result, he sent $22,000 to the scammer.

Although officials know the scam involved hacking an email account, an investigation is still underway, Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said.

“These payment interception scams are becoming increasingly common where the fraudsters become the ‘man in the middle’ and redirect payments from a legitimate bank account to their own,” Mr Hillyard said.

“Money transfers related to property transactions usually involve large amounts, so tapping into the communications between sellers or buyers and real estate or settlement agents is significant target with potentially high windfalls for the scammers.”

Mr Hillyard wants to ensure these incidents are not repeated so it does not give any incentive for fraudsters to continue their criminal activities.