An Aussie couple’s dream of building their perfect home is shattered after the couple lose a $102,000 down payment in elaborate scam
- Get ripped off with a $102,000 down payment
- Hacker posed as their mortgage broker
- The couple is unlikely to get a refund
A couple who had saved for 10 years to raise a $102,000 down payment was shocked when a con artist snatched the lot within days.
Nicola and Adam Hunt, who have eight adult children, had scraped together $150,000 to buy a house and land parcel in south Brisbane while construction on the house had not yet begun.
‘I work five days a week, sometimes six and Nikki works four days a week. We saved every penny we could,” Mr Hunt told Channel Nine’s A current situation.
At the suggestion of a friend, the couple turned to mortgage broker Real Estate Investment Finance and found them to be very responsive.
“We could call him late at night or something like that and he’d email or call us back,” Mr Hunt said.
Nicola and Adam Hunt (pictured left and center) were devastated when they lost $102,000 of their home deposit to a scam artist
“As we communicated with the broker, he asked for our identification. We have birth certificates, we have permits, all of our IDs.”
Little did The Hunts know that at one point a hacker joined the legitimate correspondence and posed as a broker by copying the email address almost identically.
The fake address had a few punctuation marks and one word different.
The hacker eventually managed to convince Ms. Hunt to share the couple’s bank details and soon after they requested the transfer of $102,000.
“I feel responsible for that part. I feel stupid for letting those details out,” she said.
Ms Hunt said she was so absorbed in the excitement of buying a house that she had no idea she was handing the money over to scammers.
The Hunts only found out they had been conned when they went out for a weekend dinner.
Ms Hunt said she received a call from a lady who worked at the Commonwealth Bank informing them that hackers were trying to steal another $20,000.
She said she started shaking and “fell sick” with disbelief.
Ms Hunt said she is holding out hope that the money can be returned, despite police telling the pair it had already been moved to the coast, making it almost impossible to track it.
Cybercrime expert Dave Lacey said it was unfortunately unlikely the Hunts would be able to recover the amount.
“If you volunteer or provide information such as security information, passwords, surveys or access to your device, the victim will usually bear that loss,” Lacey said.
“There is no restorative justice that we would typically see when it comes to these crimes.
“The mortgage industry, like the real estate or real estate industry, is often a honeypot for people’s information.”
The hacker managed to electronically impersonate the mortgage broker the Hunts were using
Mr. Lacey advised people not to respond to communications of a financial nature without otherwise verifying the contact.
Real Estate Investment Finance said it believed an isolated phishing scam was responsible for the loss.
“Our client takes the matter very seriously and is working closely with cybersecurity experts to fully understand what happened,” the broker’s law firm Stockley Pagano Lawyers said in a statement.
“Our client has been in constant contact with Mr. and Mrs. Hunt. Our client is, of course, willing to assist the Hunts with their questions.”
The Commonwealth Bank said it is also investigating.
All that remains for the Hunts is the plans of their dream home.
Ms Hunt said she wanted to build something that would be “easy to maintain” and was looking forward to swimming in her own pool.
She said it was disheartening to see the money disappear after working every week and saving every penny.