NSW Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres has issued a warning regarding tax scams in which property owners are duped into giving out their details, which are then used by scammers to assume the identity of the owners and sell or re-mortgage their property.
Ayres said the scam letter offers landlords living overseas the opportunity to claim a tax exemption on rental incomes.
“The scam email advises agencies of managing landlords to forward forms to them to complete and return to the scammer,” he said.
“The forms require detailed personal information as well as photocopies of passports and mortgage account numbers.”
Peter Cutajar, legal counsel for insurer First Title, said recent years have seen an upsurge in this kind of property fraud – much of which goes unreported.
“There’s certainly been an increase. There are organised crime groups now involved in this whereas before it was much more disorganised,” said Cutajar.
“When there’s a bank involved they’ll often settle without it being reported because obviously this kind of thing could cause some reputational damage for the bank.”
In a recent example in Perth, scammers made off with nearly $500,000 after selling a defrauded property.
“The owners of that property were left with defending a claim by the mortgagee for possession of the property at their own expense and with the uncertainty of not knowing whether they will recover or lose their home.” Cutajar said.