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Criminals Steal House Thanks To Hacked Email

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the that's-not-a-scam,-THIS-is-a-scam dept.

Security 227

mask.of.sanity writes with this quote from ZDNet: "An international cybercrime investigation is underway into a sophisticated scam network that used email and fax to sell an Australian man's AU$500,000 property without his knowledge. The man was overseas when the Nigerian-based scammers stole his credentials and amazingly sold two houses through his real estate agent. He rushed home and prevented the sale of his second home from being finalized. Australian Federal Police and overseas law enforcement agencies will investigate the complex scam, which is considered the first of its kind in Australia. It is alleged scammers had stolen the man's email account and personal property documents to sell the houses and funnel cash into Chinese bank accounts. Investigating agencies admit the scammers hoodwinked both the selling agents and the government, and said they had enough information to satisfy regulatory requirements. The police did not rule out if the scammers had links to the man."

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227 comments

This is a non-story. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570138)

Why is it on Slashdot? People have been fraudulently selling other people's property for a very long time, and this is hardly the first or biggest such Internet-related crime.

Re:This is a non-story. (4, Insightful)

euyis (1521257) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570148)

Because it's insanely complex and stealthy?

Re:This is a non-story. (2, Insightful)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570190)

Please point us to an article where someones house was sold by hacking their e-mail account.

I'm wondering what happens now - does he make a claim on his insurance for a stolen house (and land)? Do the new owners lose their money/house?

I'm sure the previously requested link will clarify all this because it's obviously something that happens all the time.

Re:This is a non-story. (3, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570240)

Australia is known to have cleaned up its tax, banking and property sales with complex ID tracking at a points along every transaction.
Thats is what makes this so interesting.
Every small move in Australia is watched over many interconnected databases. Mostly for tax.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_point_check [wikipedia.org]

Re:This is a non-story. (1)

Demena (966987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570490)

Ya wot? Nothing to see here. Nothing with much accuracy anyway. We do have a system used for resolving identification but it is not particularly onerous. It does mean you cannot have phone, credit card or bank account without having a real name or identity attached to it. That is all it means.

Re:This is a non-story. (2, Informative)

rjch (544288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570892)

Australia is known to have cleaned up its tax, banking and property sales with complex ID tracking at a points along every transaction.
Thats is what makes this so interesting.

Not really. If you'd read the article, you'd have seen the sentence "It is understood the real estate agency did not request a 100-point identity check and was not required to do so." They didn't bypass the 100-point ID check.

Re:This is a non-story. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570942)

Not so sure you appreciate what the 100 point check means (or maybe I missed the sarcasm). Various types of ID are given points that's all it means. Nothing more.
A Photoshopped Birth Cert is worth 70 points, and a license, which can be obtained with a photoshopped Birth Cert and a driving test, is worth 40 points. With just this (and maybe a couple of photoshopped utility bills) you can open bank accounts, register company and pretty much anything you like.
There is no 'interconnected databases' at least none you would feel comforted by, and no-one is watching, unless they've been given a huge tip off before the fact. I used to work for the Tax dept and most of it is hit and miss stuff, exactly the type you would expect from a massive govt bureaucracy

Re:This is a non-story. (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571138)

Australia is known to have cleaned up its tax, banking and property sales with complex ID tracking at a points along every transaction. Thats is what makes this so interesting. Every small move in Australia is watched over many interconnected databases. Mostly for tax. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_point_check [wikipedia.org]

You make it sound like a super secure big brother system. An expired passport and a student card gets you over the 100 point threshold.

Re:This is a non-story. (2, Insightful)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570242)

does he make a claim on his insurance for a stolen house (and land)?

I would be amazed if such a clause or coverage existed in a homeowner's policy.

At the same time, I think I hear insurance companies pounding away on their keyboards getting ready to introduce it as a $120/year extra...or whatever would be reasonable, never owned a home to know what the costs and whatnot are.

Re:This is a non-story. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570308)

Do the new owners lose their money/house?

Australia has Torrens Title [wikipedia.org] , so once the new owners are registered they have an indefeasible title to the property (i.e. the fact that it was sold by fraud does not render the assignment void). Whether they (or more likely their agents) own the previous registered proprietor any money depends on the facts of the case.

Re:This is a non-story. (3, Interesting)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570572)

According to the wikipedia article fraud nullifies that at least in the state of Victoria. They used a forged title dead (abait unknowinglly though it matters not) to get the transfer registered. Hence they fraudulantly transfered the title, and in Victoria it would be null and void. I am going to assume that it is similar in Western Austriala, but I have not evidence that it is.

Does Aus have Title Insurance? (2, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570654)

Here in the US, it's normal for a home buyer to buy title insurance (and for mortgage companies to require it if they're lending money) which insures that the buyer doesn't lose (much) money if the title is bad. There are all sorts of reasons this can happen - deliberate forgery isn't the only one, though it's not unpopular, as are "selling the same house to multiple buyers", etc.

The Wikipedia article on Torrens Title looks like the state provides the title insurance in case they've allowed fraudulent transactions to occur.

Re:This is a non-story. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570372)

Re:This is a non-story. (0, Redundant)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570480)

My kingdom for a mod point. +1 funny... and redundant :)

Re:This is a non-story. (0, Offtopic)

FlyMysticalDJ (1660959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570626)

more appropriate than redundant would be recursive.... though somehow doubt such a mod would make it into slashdot.

Re:This is a non-story. (0, Offtopic)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570708)

I work with what I've got, man.

Re:This is a non-story. (1)

Demena (966987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570442)

You don't need to hack an email account to do this. There is a flaw in the laws handling property registry.

Real Estate Agents.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570140)

Don't leave him home without a restraining order against yours.

Re:Real Estate Agents.. (2, Funny)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570272)

Reminds me of the the old Australian comedy show Fast Forward in the early 1990's: "Where your property is our property"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QaH0uPlp24 [youtube.com]

this is ridiculous (4, Insightful)

fadethepolice (689344) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570166)

The fact that property of this value can be transferred without the owner's knowledge and he has to go to the australian government in the hopes of recovering full value for the home is shameful. You would think that a court of law would need to be consulted and signatures would have to be issued and compared, at least through the mail.

Re:this is ridiculous (5, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570188)

>>You would think that a court of law would need to be consulted and signatures would have to be issued and compared, at least through the mail.

Theoretically that is what notaries and escrow is all about. Whatever notary signed off on this should lose their license. If it wasn't notarized, then the escrow company for approving a sale without notarized documents. I'm also kind of surprised the real estate agent never tried to call the guy, even if he was overseas.

Re:this is ridiculous (5, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570318)

There is far more to it than email, "It is alleged scammers had stolen Mildenhall's email account and personal and property documents". There had to direct proximate contact, they obtained personal and property documents. The email angle seems to be more of a beat up by ZDnet rather than being of any real significance.

Investor generally keep property titles in a private safe or a bank safety deposit box but, he didn't notice them gone.

Hmm, strange had investments house and his agent was not renting them and the owner didn't notice the missing rent income if the agent was renting them. The whole thing stinks, from the owner, to the agent and beyond. It will be interesting to see how the case pans out over the next few months.

Re:this is ridiculous (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570472)

Do you own land? I do. I have multiple pieces of land in three states. I have no title to anything. I have document showing the sale from the previous owner to me and a document from a title insurance company. That should be sufficient. There isn't a paper title like a car. It's not like the land moves. The titles are kept by the state. The papers indicating my ownership are kept in my home and not in a safe of any kind. If someone wished, they could get them. But, under US law, this type of fraud would leave the buyers with nothing and I'd still be the undisputed owner. If I wasn't the one to sign that I sold it, it wasn't sold. Period. The rules are evidently different in Australia, though.

Re:this is ridiculous (1, Insightful)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570558)

Do you own land? I do. I have multiple pieces of land in three states.

No..you don't own your land.
Think I'm wrong? Don't pay your property taxes and we'll see who really owns the land. The government simply lets you use their land until they think they need to take it back.

Re:this is ridiculous (0, Offtopic)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570686)

Mod parent up

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570692)

Through eminent domain, in which case they still have to pay you what a judge deems to be fair market value.

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570814)

I own my pants, but if I take them off and use them to wack a police officer in the head with them, I'll never see them again. Just because something can be taken doesn't mean you don't own it. And if I don't pay my debts, it won't just go away, it'll be sold to pay debts I owe and I'll get the surplus.

Re:this is ridiculous (3, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571050)

Do you own land? I do. I have multiple pieces of land in three states. I have no title to anything. I have document showing the sale from the previous owner to me and a document from a title insurance company. That should be sufficient. There isn't a paper title like a car. It's not like the land moves. The titles are kept by the state. The papers indicating my ownership are kept in my home and not in a safe of any kind. If someone wished, they could get them. But, under US law, this type of fraud would leave the buyers with nothing and I'd still be the undisputed owner. If I wasn't the one to sign that I sold it, it wasn't sold. Period. The rules are evidently different in Australia, though.

I have a copy of the title that the state keeps on file for my house. That's not my point. There's (supposed to be) layers of security in place to prevent exactly this kind of stuff from happening. In particular, if you're selling a property and you can't come in person to sign for it, you need to visit a notary near you who is supposed to verify your identify and notarize the documents. An escrow company is only supposed to close after all forms have been signed and notarized.

That's why I said that some notary and/or the escrow company ought to get into trouble for this. That's the only value they really provide for the rather exorbitant amounts of money they charge.

Re:this is ridiculous (2, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570484)

Scammers had victim's e-mail address and the trust of agent that they were the person they pretended to be; it's easy enough to send an address/telephone change notice by e-mail that the agent then will consider the current valid details. And when called the scammer answers. Not likely agent will be able to recognise the voice being wrong, especially when the person answering the phone has the correct Australian accent.

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570540)

Not likely agent will be able to recognise the voice being wrong

That really depends. If the agent has few contacts, and talks to this landowner infrequently, then it's possible; but, if they're busy enough to talk to many people (but not so busy that they have to delegate), his/her ear will key in on a certain tonality and cadence with a familiar contact. To wit, if you have a set of family members that you talk to with some regularity, and one calls you with a stuffy nose, you would notice it fairly quickly, no?

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

Dogers (446369) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570248)

That was probably where the fax came in - a system I wish would die..

I'm curious to know how they got into his email though. Was it a weak password or was he scammed by them and they guessed it/were given it?

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570290)

keylogger and a malware friendly OS?

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570364)

You would think that a court of law would need to be consulted and signatures would have to be issued and compared, at least through the mail.

Yeah, that sounds completely foolproof!

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570470)

Governments log all your data... but when data is lost, you're on your own?
If all this happened through the internet, then surely those massive anti-terrorist / anti-cybercrime servers that log everything can be of some assistance here?

(Especially if the data was stolen from a government server where all our personal information is stored... not that it happened this time, but in the future that is certainly a possibility too).

Re:this is ridiculous (1)

krelvin (771644) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570630)

I would think that the title insurance the purchaser of the house would have obtained would cover this. It is supposed to ensure that the title is clean and was transferred above board. No title insurance, then the purchaser of the house who clear title is now in doubt would be the loser.

So what's the deal here. (3, Interesting)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570168)

Does the man lose his home? He never sold the property and I don't see why he should be giving it up.
These kind of articles never include a followup on what hapenned.

Re:So what's the deal here. (5, Informative)

dark grep (766587) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570278)

AFAIK under Australian Law, the people who bought the first house get to keep it. Assuming they are just innocent and genuine buyers. There is a government fund that is used to compensate the victim of the theft in these sort of cases, though the value will be independently assessed and the owner paid on the basis of that assessment, not what the current owners paid the scammers.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570330)

So you can buy stolen property in Australia, and its then legally yours? Awesome!

Re:So what's the deal here. (2, Insightful)

sstrick (137546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570370)

Not if a reasonable man would have suspected it was stolen. This law protects the innocent, such as this case, someone who purchased a house through a legitimate real estate agent.

If you buy a DVD player from the back of a pub and it turns out to be stolen, then you have to give it back and would be lucky not to be charged with being in reciept of stolen goods.

Dude a DVD player is $35 brand new! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570510)

If you buy a DVD player from the back of a pub and it turns out to be stolen, then you have to give it back and would be lucky not to be charged with being in reciept of stolen goods.

If you buy a DVD player from the back of a pub, you have to give back your remaining brain cell, because it turns out that your brain is faulty. You can buy a damn DVD player from K-Mart for $35 (Aussie Dollars). I'm sure there's even cheaper out there.

I do understand the point you're making but your example's a bit dated.

Re:Dude a DVD player is $35 brand new! (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570786)

If you buy a DVD player from the back of a pub and it turns out to be stolen, then you have to give it back and would be lucky not to be charged with being in reciept of stolen goods.

If you buy a DVD player from the back of a pub, you have to give back your remaining brain cell, because it turns out that your brain is faulty. You can buy a damn DVD player from K-Mart for $35 (Aussie Dollars). I'm sure there's even cheaper out there.

I do understand the point you're making but your example's a bit dated.

A fool and his money are soon parted. Nigerian scammers still make a fortune, people still believe that they are being sent that hot naked photo of Actress XYZ, greed clouds many normally rational humans, take someone a little below average and you have a free ATM. I bet if I tried I could find people in a pub to buy your $35 DVD player for $50 and they would think they got a bargain.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571114)

But what about the innocence of the original owner? Losing your home is really not funny, even if you get money with which you could buy a new one. (Well, apparently this guy had at least two houses, so it's not quite as bad for him, but the principle still holds.)

Having just read that it was "investment property", the guy was apparently a real estate investor, so he didn't lose his own home and I'm not feeling quite as sorry for him anymore. Still, better checks to prevent this kind of thing would be nice.

Re:So what's the deal here. (0)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570378)

If you bought it without the knowledge that it was stolen, then yes. Any other system is kinda retarded ... it's not fair to penalise the legitimate and honest purchaser of property of their purchase if they bought it in good faith and without any reason to believe it was stolen.

Re:So what's the deal here. (2, Insightful)

Kharny (239931) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570588)

No, it's the most dumb system i've ever heard off.
Giving the purchasers back the money(through gov. funds or such) is a good thing.

Letting the "new owners" keep someone's house, that might have big sentimental value is insane.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570940)

If you bought it without the knowledge that it was stolen, then yes. Any other system is kinda retarded ... it's not fair to penalise the legitimate and honest purchaser of property of their purchase if they bought it in good faith and without any reason to believe it was stolen.

The retarded part is that someone can sell a priceless family heirloom to someone else and, as long as the buyer thinks it's legit, there's nothing anybody can do to get their priceless family heirloom back other than try to re-purchase it from the buyer. However, now that they know it's priceless...

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570534)

Buyer was convinced the deal was legit. Even the Australian government was obviously convinced it was legit, as property ownership is registered by the government.

You as buyer go to a property agent and tell them "hey you have this flat for sale, I'm interested, I want to buy it". Then property agent will do the paperwork for you, ask a notary, whatever. You may not even meet the current owner in person for such a deal (well possible with investment properties). As long as this agent comes with the proper paperwork, the asking price is normal, etc, there is no reason for a buyer to doubt the legality of the deal.

Re:So what's the deal here. (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570382)

That's good to know because US law is clear in that the first owner would regain (because he never lost) ownership and the people who paid for it would have lost all their money and their recourse would be to find and sue the scammers. At least in Australia it sounds like there's a chance of recovering something in international fraud cases. The FBI won't even investigate international fraud if they can get out of it and will lie to you to prevent you pushing hard enough to make it an official case. And there's not much you can do to recover the money, even if you identify the person in question, if they live abroad.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

kingturkey (930819) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570502)

Really? Several states in the US apparently (Wikipedia) use the Torrens Title registration scheme and indefeasibility of title for registered proprietors is the central feature of such a system. The fact that victims of fraud such as the man in this article have the law against them is an unfortunate necessity in order to protect innocent purchasers who follow the thorough process in order to gain registration.

Re:So what's the deal here. (2, Insightful)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570564)

Whichever way you put it, someone gets screwed, in other words, but with property sales like this...there's really no other way you can do it. If you let the title/deed go to the purchaser, yeah, the person whose property was sold is out of a dwelling; but if you kick the purchaser out and return title to the rightful owner, well, what happens if the purchaser sold their old dwelling at the same time? They're out of a dwelling as well. It's a no-win situation as long as the system can be engineered.

Re:So what's the deal here. (3, Insightful)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570642)

If I was the buyer in the US and had this happen to me, the first place I would go would be to my title insurance company. Not sure it would work, but after the police, that is were I would go.

I had the understanding that the property concidered stolen property and must be returned to the orginal owner. However, I have seen articles of similar thefts happening in the US where the buyer kept the property, But these were news accounts and you know how reliable they can be.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

flonker (526111) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570718)

Isn't this the whole purpose of title insurance? The buyer's title insurance company would pay the buyer back, and the original owner keeps the house?

Re:So what's the deal here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570684)

considering that this crime is likely to be extremely rare, you could make a mandatory insurance policy that protects the buyer (and current owner never "loses" his property). The fee would likely be relatively low (under $1k) and the insurance companies become richer so they're happy too, and everyone wins basically. I'd gladly pay a few hundred to not gamble away a house (no matter the odds), it's kinda like reverse lottery, you're not likely to win, but if you win, you're fucked.

buyer should lose (5, Insightful)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570806)

The owner can't protect himself against fraudulent sales because he doesn't know a transaction is taking place. The buyer, on the other hand, knows that a transaction is taking place and that there is a certain risk that it's fraudulent. The buyer has all the power and information necessary to make sure it's not a fraudulent transaction and to insure against it. That's why the buyer should lose the house and it should go back to its original owner. The buyer should have title insurance (either privately purchased or through the state).

If you don't place the responsibility on the buyer, no party who knows about the transaction has any interest in preventing fraud: the real estate agent gets his cut, the buyer gets a cheap house, and the con men get their money. In that situation, they can all ignore signs of fraud to the maximum degree that they can plausibly get away with.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570780)

I've owned multiple pieces of land in multiple states, but never in one of the few that use the Torrens system and didn't know that was used in the US until this. But my comments are still true for the vast majority of the US.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

GryMor (88799) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570848)

The wiki is misleading. It lists Washington for instance, but fails to note that only 3500 parcels are under the Torrens system in Washington, everything else is in the normal system. Basically, the Torrens system is a nightmare, every thing that is seen as 'wrong' with the chain of title system is trivially handled by Title Insurance, which, unlike regular insurance, as it's insuring against the past, can (and does) take significant measures to identify and cure issues before a real estate deal is finalized. It properly places the incentives for verification in the hands of experts who have a significant financial stake in things being correct. It also protects innocent third parties to a transaction, as there interests can't be infringed (as has occurred in TFA, the owner was not a party to the purported sale of his own house but gets screwed by the Torrens system, under a sane system, the buyers would have gotten title insurance and been compensated, not having ever actually acquired the house, as they were in a position, being a party to the transaction, to detect the fraud (either personally, or via the title insurance company) in transactions they are not a party to.

Re:So what's the deal here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570520)

i have no idea about the laws, but what your stating will/would happen sounds a bit shit to be honest. the guy should get his house back, the buyers should be compensated from that government fund.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570750)

So I buy the house far below market value from a conman. The seller gets the real value from governement. We split the profits.

Re:So what's the deal here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33571058)

You go to jail.

"Why was the house so cheap?"
"Um, I don't know"
"You weren't suspicious about that?"
"He said he needed to sell it quickly..."
"The same day?"
"Well yeah"
"And that seemed reasonable?"
"..."

This sets the jury wondering whether you're an idiot or in on the scam. When the evidence is presented that you "split the profits", they convict.

Re:So what's the deal here. (2, Insightful)

daithesong (1124065) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571198)

surely the fair return to the 'status quo ante' is for the government to restore the money to the *buyers* and the property to the *rightful owner*. The buyers can they buy another property, if they wish; they are back where they started.

Re:So what's the deal here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570348)

These kind of articles never include a followup on what hapenned.

There is no followup on what happened because what you're asking for has not yet actually happened! This is a very recent event. Check back in a couple of months after it goes through the police and courts.

Re:So what's the deal here. (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570506)

Next time we'll wait with article until there is adequate follow-up, and then we'll have comments who sound like this: "Why is it posted now, this was first posted months ago on site ***. Bad not-uptodate /."

Commission (2, Funny)

initials (1418121) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570266)

I doubt the real estate agent will be refunding their commission.

Re:Commission (1)

Demena (966987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570544)

Correct. If they are found not to have acted in full accord with their responsibilities they will have to fork out the full value of the property. But the sale will not be cancelled. A civil suit would follow to cover pin and anguish.

Oh. XKCD! (3, Funny)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570310)

http://xkcd.com/792/ [xkcd.com]
You can add house to that list.

Re:Oh. XKCD! (2, Funny)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570512)

Damn, I was saving it for the next Google story. Bastard!

That's nothing... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570340)

Here in the US criminals stole not the House, but the whole Executive Branch thanks to hacked voting machines! (allegedly)

Re:That's nothing... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570852)

...which should not be modded as funny.

Re:That's nothing... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571078)

...which should not be modded as funny.

This would not have happened if the new Slashdot Law on Correct Smiley Placement was already in effect :( <- correct

Were I him, I would... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570360)

...chain myself to my water piping and keep the gun cocked. I'm not leaving MY house. It wasn't for sale so you couldn't have bought it not matter what some f'n pieces of paper say. You burn the f'n papers or I burn the f'n house.

Re:Were I him, I would... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570538)

As much as I find the concept of pyrrhic victory romantic, that's probably the fastest way to have your case ignored by all and sundry. We have reasonably tight gun control in Australia, and assuming you can even get one, waving it around will get you looked down on by pretty much everyone in civilised society. Even your greatest weapon in this situation, the sensationalist media, will turn on you.

Re:Were I him, I would... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570698)

Indeed. I think the GP just makes himself out to be a lunatic. His actions might be a valid 'last resort', but surely you'd try to go through the proper processes and legal means of getting the property back first, lol ... (or getting compensated for it at the very least)

Some people just seem to take things to extremes right from the outset. The ease with which many people on /. say they'd be reaching for a weapon is quite disturbing.

Re:Were I him, I would... (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570812)

It's easy to be a tough guy on the internet. Gun ownership strikes me a bit like a sexlife. Those who actually have one feel far less of a need to talk about it all the time.

Scares the hell out of me (1)

sstrick (137546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570366)

This does, although I am still not sure how the scammers got hold of the original certificate of title. Here in WA this is still a piece of paper and the settlement agent must have it to complete the transaction.

It can be replaced although it is extremely difficult to do so (trust me, I lost one).

Re:Scares the hell out of me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570384)

I saw in one of the news articles that they made a fake title deed, and it got accepted.

Re:Scares the hell out of me (3, Insightful)

GryMor (88799) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570482)

Wait, so he still has the original Title Deed? Then the house was never properly sold and the Title Insurance company should be stuck with the bill. Under what system can a fake title, after being identified as a fake, survive? That completely defeats the purpose of a Title and Title Insurance. Responsibility for verifying the authenticity of a transaction must always lie with the actual parties to the transaction, not uninvolved third parties, even when one of the parties to the transaction purports to be the third party. To do otherwise creates perverse insensitives for the only parties capable of identifying fraud, the uninvolved third part can't identify it, before the fact, on account of never having the opportunity.

Re:Scares the hell out of me (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570586)

Under what system can a fake title, after being identified as a fake, survive?

Torrens title [wikipedia.org]

Re:Scares the hell out of me (2, Interesting)

nosfucious (157958) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571130)

When my parents paid off thier mortgage, they never actually closed the mortgage.

The banks still had the title deed. The bank had to keep that document safe (part of the contact). And they deferred the Stamp Duty. When they eventually sold up and moved (Vic to NSW), THEN they retreived the title from the bank. No title deed, no actual sale.

When (if) I buy property back in Oz, I'll have a Conveyancing Lawyer checking the title. They also check liens and (AFAIR) planning issues that might sneek up on you.

Re:Scares the hell out of me (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570542)

This does, although I am still not sure how the scammers got hold of the original certificate of title. Here in WA this is still a piece of paper and the settlement agent must have it to complete the transaction.

But there in lies the problem. The settlement agents (realtors) which had the power to sell the house (possibly also the title papers) were duped by the scammer, it's quite easy to see how this happened, scammer breaks into email account, scammer initiates contact with realtors, scammer instructs realtors to sell houses, realtors sell the houses and transfer the money to the owners "new" bank account. Because the owner is overseas the realtors may have been given the power to do this, as you pointed out there needs to be a physical signing of the papers and few Aussies are now retired Ex-pats living off rental income.

Where the realtor screwed up and it is the realtor who is most to blame here is not verifying the sale via another method of communication (voice, as in the phone) and it would be the realtor I'd be taking to court over this. By reading TFA it seems the person in question is doing this, also according to TFA the agent did not do a mandatory 100 point ID check. Where the owner screwed up is by A) entrusting a realtor (or at least a single realtor) to have the right to sell a house (I wouldn't leave a multi $100K investment in one persons hands) and B) Not checking his email, a sale takes days or weeks to finalise (esp with a bank involved, I've had friends wait months).

This shouldn't have gotten very far. (1)

Ssherby (1429933) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570376)

Everyone knows that Nigerian scammers can't spell and use English grammar correctly

That should have been the first clue

Re:This shouldn't have gotten very far. (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570526)

But it was a Nigerian prince! Really. No one expects a Nigerian prince to be dishonest. Just like no one expects a Spanish inquisition... Sorry, off topic.

Re:This shouldn't have gotten very far. (1)

Ssherby (1429933) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570554)

Dear Mr. [real estate agent / property manager]

My name is Doris and I writing too you as wife Mr. [rich Australian] who is in Hospital. Until recently I became nurse to taking care of him as he suffering from pain of rare disease he contracting while in Safari on Africa, then become his wife due too him being kind man. This Hospital can not give special treatment to treating for cure of these disease because payment is not received. My husband say he very rich, but they money has invested in properties of which you are management and agent.

I have arranging via email with American to make purchase of properties worth $10,000,000 in sell pricing of $500,000 to sent to hospital for treat for cure of those disease my husband is pain from. Please expediting of sell of properties to allow paying of treatment as he is much pain suffering.

Contacting of American may happen and those documents pertains of properties to sent to you should you reply please quickly with bank information requiring for deposit to make.

Help please quickly,

-- --

Mrs. Doris [rich Australian's last name]

Re:This shouldn't have gotten very far. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570556)

Everyone knows that Nigerian scammers can't spell and use English grammar correctly

Unfortunately quite a few Aussies who made a fortune in the mining industry also fall into this category.

Re:This shouldn't have gotten very far. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571166)

Everyone knows that Nigerian scammers can't spell and use English grammar correctly

That should be:

Everyone knows that Nigerian scammers can't spell, and use English grammar incorrectly.

or:

Everyone knows that Nigerian scammers can neither spell nor use English grammar correctly.

Congratulations on sticking to the age-old slashdot tradition of making a spelling or grammar mistake in any post referring to spelling or grammar.

Nuke Nigeria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570404)

It's the only way to be sure.

HomePwners? (1)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570430)

get it? its a play on words.

Re:HomePwners? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570532)

No, please elaborate.

First time? (2, Informative)

Demena (966987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570432)

Horsehockey, This sort of thing has happened many times before in this country. The problem happens because once it hits the registry the registry cannot legally be altered. So if the buyer acted in good faith it is up to the (accidental) seller to recover the funds from the crook. It doesn't happen often because most people are aware of it.

Have we ruled out Carmen Sandiego as the culprit (2, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570492)

I mean Carmen Sandiego and her gang have been known to steal whole monuments, I'm sure a house is a pretty easy job for them.

...and they go back to e-mail after all that (2, Interesting)

lavagolemking (1352431) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570522)

and have issued email warnings to all licensees in the state...

Didn't they learn anything? So they still fell back to e-mail as the official line of communication? With people like that running regulatory agencies, it's no wonder our world is so screwed up.

may (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570570)

Are you seeking tranquility with blue serenity, craving luxury with purple indulgence, creating desire with red lust or wanting to make everyone green with envy?–welcome to ghdokbuy.com to choose your own destiny.

Integrity of house sales system (0, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570578)

Here in the UK for as long as it's been, you used to get the deeds to a house when you bought it / paid off the mortgage. It is basically a printed piece of paper which tells you the details of the house, like boundary rights or restrictions, and who is the owner of the house. When under a mortgage, you can see that the mortgage company's details are used as the owner. This document gets updated whenever the property is sold or a mortgage is obtained against it.

Now a few years ago, these documents which you HAD as the ultimate proof you own your home became a museum piece, and now the only proof that you own the property is an electronic record in the Land Registry.

Unfortunately these electronic records have already been tampered with, and people have lost their homes because the government decided to trust a computer, rather than have the backup of who has the deeds to the property.

There was an article in the BBC TV news about the scam, and just how easy it is. This is what you get when you have easily bought politicians who think the answer to everything is a bloody computer system.

Re:Integrity of house sales system (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570620)

Bought a house two years ago. We have the paper deeds. They trump all electronic records (the conveyancer was a family friend, so she explained it all). I call bullshit.

Most people / mortgage companies store their paper deeds in a secured area, like a safe deposit box, that's all. The land registry's electronic records are only concerned with certain details and are not a definitive legal ruling. And the land registry keep paper copies too, why do you think you have to sign so many forms?

I'm not saying it isn't possible but saying that paper deeds don't exist is crap. If it was on the BBC, link to it (there'll be a news story on the site still, for years yet). When you buy a house in the UK, the person who does most of the legwork is usually a solicitor (either for you, or your mortgage company) - they don't do stuff lightly, don't generally accept things that aren't on paper (or provide sufficient proof that they can't be sued for not doing their job), and don't want to get into a fight over who owns £200,000 worth of house because they didn't photocopy something.

I actually bought my house via fax, for at least part of it, from Corfu. But still that was only a last-minute oversight after mountains of paperwork (and even checking of passports in the UK to ensure we were who we said we were) and the conveyancer (a long-term family friend) refused to let the sale go through without something from us on paper - anything else and our word would have been good enough to that friend but they honestly CAN'T take that sort of risk, with the financial rules how they are.

Re:Integrity of house sales system (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33571036)

Whereabouts in the UK? Remember that Scotland's land law is completely different to England's.

Dupe from a just a few days ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570666)

How have there been over 100 comments and not a single one pointing that out?

forged signature (2, Informative)

cchheezzaall (707708) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570680)

The guy was on TV here in Australia. He claimed the authorization signature looked nothing like his , and he said it looked like a 5 year old child wrote it ....

believed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33570810)

"The thieves, believed to be Nigerian" and Soulskill's "The man was overseas when the Nigerian-based scammers stole his credentials"....lost in copying?

Who showed up at closing? (2, Interesting)

dgun (1056422) | more than 3 years ago | (#33570906)

Australia doesn't require someone to show up and sign a bunch of crap, I guess. It seems I signed about 5,000 documents both times I purchased a house.

That's what happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33571072)

When you see porn in Australia!

Some insight into conveyancing: (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33571242)

Some insight from a UK perspective anyway. I work for a fairly large firm of solicitors in the UK who specialize in property/real estate. Here's a few worrying bits of information:

We are required to have ID on the file by law, we are not required to check it in any way whatsoever.

If the vendor/purchaser is long distance from our offices we will accept emailed/faxed copies of all paperwork (INCLUDING ID) within certain easily restrictions such as certified copies, see next point.

We will create a certified copy of ID from anyone that walks in from the street which is basically a legal way of saying we've had sight of the original. If someone was worried about sending their passport to us by post they could get a copy and take it to a local firm of solicitors/lawyers/attorneys and have them stamp it, we would then accept that by fax or email as if it were the original document. This process is usually done by whoever the office assistant/intern happens to be and they will certainly not know how to check the document to make sure it is an original. In my experience they tend to be more worried about whether or not they will be able to make the photocopier work.

We are never required to speak to our client by phone or in person, some simply prefer to do business by email for whatever reason. (sometimes language/accent barriers - communicating via google translate is an experience for sure)

We are not required to check signatures beyond a casual glance to make sure they look similar to the one shown on the ID and this is usually not done. If the document is signed that's good enough for most of the solicitors I've worked for.

Posting ac for obvious reasons.

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