Sydney real estate agent loses $800000 to cybercrime

Sydney real estate agent loses $800,000 from trust fund to cyber crime

A principal in Sydney was horrified to witness $757,000 draining from his trust account recently – there was nothing he or his bank could do to stop it.

The principal had logged into his online banking via security USB, and after attempting to make a transaction, received an unusual message claiming the site was down for online maintenance. Sometime later, he attempted to login again and found the same error message.

Concerned, he contacted his accounts department who were shocked to be witnessing the large fraudulent transactions occurring. Fortunately, four of the five fraudulent transactions have been returned to the agent. Unfortunately one of the transactions could not be recovered, leaving the principal $80,000 out of pocket.

The principal offered the following advice to other agencies following this experience:

  • Check your internet banking does not allow for Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payments. This allows a same-day transfer to another bank with transactions being settled as soon as they are processed, allowing for money to be transferred and withdrawn in a very short space of time rather than overnight.
  • Do not use a USB to access internet banking as they can be compromised.
  • Don’t rely on your bank to protect you or put the correct safety systems in place – do your own due diligence on protection and ask questions of your bank and insurer on cybercrime prevention.
  • Check that you are covered for cybercrime under your insurance policy.

The agency did not have a standalone cybercrime insurance policy but had a cybercrime extension of their professional indemnity insurance, which is limited for cyber claims.

Ensure that your business is adequately covered in the case that you are the victim of cybercrime, or speak to a Coverforce insurance broker today to get further advice.

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