PHOTO: First Home Buyers. FILE

A Western Australian couple’s dream of buying their first home in Australia has been shattered after scammers stole almost $133,000 after cloning the settlement agent’s email address.

The Thornlie couple had their offer on a Piara Waters home accepted and the 32 year old husband, who arrived in Australia from Myanmar in 2006, received an email from whom he thought was the settlement agent asking for a payment of $110,000 and included bank account details.

The email address was almost the same as the settlement agent’s, except one letter was added and the .au had been removed. Not realising this, the victim transferred three payments amounting to $110,000 on 15 and 16 December 2020, then made a further payment supposedly for stamp duty of $22,981.40 on 21 December 2020.

Settlement was scheduled for 23 December 2020.

When the victim received an additional email asking for payment of the balance of $480,000, he forwarded the email to his mortgage broker and it was then that the couple discovered they had been scammed, turning their excitement into horror.

The bank could not retrieve the funds and they were forced to withdraw from purchasing the property.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said it was heartbreaking for the couple to lose money that they had worked so hard to save.

“Ruthless criminals who hide behind the anonymity of the internet have little regard for the circumstances of their victims,” Ms Chopping said.