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Scammers Con Real Estate Agent Into Selling House

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A PERTH real estate agent has sold an investment property without the owner's knowledge.

Roger Mildenhall, 64, was living in South Africa when his $485,000 Perth property was sold in June by someone posing as him.

Police have told him the money is gone and he may not see a cent of it, in a case that has raised fresh fears over the ease of identity theft.

And in a bitter twist, the building contractor may still have to pay thousands of dollars in capital gains tax.

Mr Mildenhall returned to Perth last week after hearing about the sale of his Karrinyup duplex, only to discover his second investment property in Wembley Downs was also in the process of being sold by scammers.

He managed to stop the sale but said the locks had already been changed on the home and cleaners had been contracted to prepare the home for its new owners.

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The illegal sale of his Karrinyup property meant he had lost his retirement fund, he said.

``It's something you read about in books but you would never expect it to happen to you,'' Mr Mildenhall said.

``When my neighbours told me on the phone I thought they were pulling my leg. I thought they were having a joke.''

It is understood the Karrinyup home was put on the market after a series of emails were sent to the agent asking for the home to be sold due to financial hardship.

Mr Mildenhall said officers from the Major Fraud Squad told him their initial investigations indicated the scammers were originally from Nigeria.

``This was my retirement fund, this was my nest egg,'' the building contractor said. ``I lived in Australia for 40 years and worked hard.''

Mr Mildenhall said he would now try and recoup the losses from the companies involved with the sale. He said the real estate agency was Hagen & Co in Woodlands, while the settlement agency was Progressive Settlements, also based in Woodlands. He had dealt with both agencies previously.

Hagen & Co director Gail Courtis declined to comment yesterday, while attempts to contact Progressive Settlements were not successful.

Mr Mildenhall said: ``It wasn't even my signature on the letter of acceptance, it was just like a five-year-old had written out my name in block letters. And yet the settlement agency didn't even turn a hair, they just accepted it.

``I've got lots of questions because due diligence (by the real estate and settlement agents) wasn't shown. There were several things that should not have happened without me - the real me - activating the sale.

``The person in the street does not realise that their records are so readily available. The rules of disclosure and identity have shown to be lapse. If it happened to me then surely it's going to happen again.''

Consumer Protection Commissioner Anne Driscoll said real estate agents and settlement agents had been sent urgent bulletins warning them of the scam.

``Clearly real estate agents need to take every precaution to ensure they are selling a property on behalf of the rightful owner by demanding proof of identification like a driver licence or passport,'' Ms Driscoll said.

In light of the case, she said agents should check title deeds and ask for evidence of a mortgage being paid for a property.

An investigation involving the Real Estate and Business Agents Supervisory Board and Settlement Agents Supervisory Board is underway.

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/scammers-con-real-estate-agent-into-selling-house/story-e6frg13u-1225918470678

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I'm curious as to how the property does not instantly revert to him if it was sold by someone who didn't own it?

Surely the new 'owners' are now guilty of handling stolen goods?

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What I don't understand about this case is that the real estate agent didn't see the original deeds and the guy who owns the house didn't sign anything. Given this, surely it is the buyer, and not the seller, who has lost out? A very strange case.

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What I don't understand about this case is that the real estate agent didn't see the original deeds and the guy who owns the house didn't sign anything. Given this, surely it is the buyer, and not the seller, who has lost out? A very strange case.

Indeed, the owner, has sold nothing...unless the properties were in a "market", where the ownership changes in favour of the buyer.

the solicitors have a few questions to answer too.

Course, the scammer may be the guy claiming to be scammed.

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Indeed, the owner, has sold nothing...unless the properties were in a "market", where the ownership changes in favour of the buyer.

the solicitors have a few questions to answer too.

Course, the scammer may be the guy claiming to be scammed.

Wow, I hadn't thought of that. Makes total sense, though.

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He is a property collector. I feel more sympathy for the people he is 'pricing out'. :D

What an idiotic response.

Most of us here agree that high house prices have damaged the economy, society etc and priced out many FTBs but you must ensure that property rights are respected.

If this case of theft is true it is a really frightening prospect for any homeowner regardless of whether they are owner occupiers or otherwise.

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What an idiotic response.

Most of us here agree that high house prices have damaged the economy, society etc and priced out many FTBs but you must ensure that property rights are respected.

If this case of theft is true it is a really frightening prospect for any homeowner regardless of whether they are owner occupiers or otherwise.

Well, yeah. what proof is EVER demanded by the Land registry when they issue the documents? All I recall in my house purchases was a signature at the bottom.

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He is a property collector. I feel more sympathy for the people he is 'pricing out'. :D

Not really. He will get his dough back eventually if the agents involved have any money that is. However, I don't see how the new owners can be allowed to live there. If you buy chattels in the UK from a non-owner then you lose. I don't see the difference here unless Aussie law is different which I really can't see. Any lawyers on here?

Edited by tomwatkins

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I'm curious as to how the property does not instantly revert to him if it was sold by someone who didn't own it?

Surely the new 'owners' are now guilty of handling stolen goods?

I would agree but don't know about the new owners and the stolen goods thingy. Possession is nine tenths of the law is total b0llocks-it always has been.

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The UK is an odd country.

If you buy a secondhand car that is sold to you by someone who does not own it you, the buyer, lose out.

If you buy a secondhand house that is sold to you by someone who does not own it the real owners loses out.

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The UK is an odd country.

If you buy a secondhand car that is sold to you by someone who does not own it you, the buyer, lose out.

If you buy a secondhand house that is sold to you by someone who does not own it the real owners loses out.

The UK has more than legal system, in previous cases for English law the land registry must make a mistake for this to happen, and has paid compensation to sort the matter out.

The Land registry of course doesn't cover Scotland, and their legal system may treat it different anyway. The car case you state also differs in Scottish law, and treats the issue of good title differently.

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The Land registry of course doesn't cover Scotland, and their legal system may treat it different anyway. The car case you state also differs in Scottish law, and treats the issue of good title differently.

Wrong Perth, I think you'll find Aussie law more relevant. Being derived from English common law though, I'd imagine it's pretty much the same situation as in England & Wales.

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  • 153 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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