Copyright AFP, 2010 | Sep 13, 2010
Australian authorities said Monday they were investigating claims that a man had one of his houses sold without his knowledge, with another property about to be handed over to new owners.
The Major Fraud Squad is looking into the alleged scam, under which Roger Mildenhall’s 485,000 dollar (451,316 US) investment property in the Perth suburb of Karrinyup was sold in June while he was out of the country.
Mildenhall said he was shocked to hear about the sale from a neighbour and returned from overseas to investigate, only to find his main home was also in the process of being sold.
“They said that the house that was my rental property had already been sold and that the locks had been changed in my own home and that was about to be sold as well,” he told ABC Radio on Sunday.
Police said they were investigating whether the scammers, who allegedly organised the sale via email and telephone, were known to Mildenhall. “We have a number of previous complaints where family members have taken property off another family member, but if this is a true scam then it is the first of its kind,” Detective Senior Sergeant Don Heise said.
Mildenhall, who arrived back in Australia in time to stop the sale of the second property, has reportedly hired a lawyer to attempt to recover his asset.
Western Australia’s Consumer Protection department is investigating how scammers could have posed as the homeowner to dupe an estate agent. Commissioner Anne Driscoll said this type of con was extremely rare but urged estate agents to be vigilant. “The details of the scam need to be fully investigated for us to understand exactly what happened and how this dupe actually was so effective,” she told ABC.