In the latest in a wave of scams, fraudsters are stealing property owners' identities and attempting to sell their houses through legitimate channels on the open market.
A recent incident saw Ntuen Promise Ekenmini, a Nigerian scam artist, arrested earlier this month after he allegedly contacted the property manager of a Mandurah real estate agency in December last year, purporting to be the owner of a home managed by the agency.
Ekenmini is alleged to have used a Yahoo email address in the name of one of the real owners and requested that all future correspondence be forwarded to the new email address and all phone contact be made through a new mobile number.
The agency received a request in January to sell the property. A sales agreement with false signatures was completed by the offender(s) and returned to the agent, together with copies of fake passports and forged documents.
Suspicions were raised by agency staff who had attended an anti-fraud education seminar.
Ekenmini was arrested in his home country.
This is not the first incident of land title fraud in Western Australia. In 2010, South African-based investor Roger Mildenhall discovered that his investment property in Perth suburb Karrinyup had been sold without his knowledge or the consent of his property manager.
In April, 2011, a home in Ballajura, owned by a couple living in Nigeria at the time, was allegedly sold for $410,000 by Nigerian fraudsters without the knowledge or permission of the real owners.
The fraudulent sale was not reported until August that year when the owners returned to Perth to inspect the property.
In both cases, funds were transferred to bank accounts in China.
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