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TPO warns agents over email scam

Tuesday 19 September 2017

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has issued a warning to all agents to act with caution as fraudulent ‘buyers’ target agents with the latest computer virus scam.

TPO has been alerted to a case by a member agent who received emails from a potential buyer in China. The individual emailed the branch several times expressing a keen interest to make a full asking price offer on a property.

The agent, suspicious of the buyer’s eagerness to act quickly without having viewed the property, asked the individual to send over all personal details including identification documents. When the email came through, the attachments were difficult to open. The agent passed the email to his IT department who confirmed that it contained a series of potentially destructive computer viruses.

It is not known what impact the viruses could have had on the agent’s IT system if it had not been identified, but fortunately in this case the scam was spotted and no company or customer details were compromised.

How to protect against fraud

  • remain vigilant and always be wary of emails that seem too good to be true
  • check the senders email address, this can often offer clues as to whether they are legitimate or not
  • do not open email attachments from unknown sources
  • be cautious of embedded email links; hover your mouse over the link to see if you're actually being directed to a different site

If you have received any suspicious emails, they should be reported to Action Fraud immediately by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Scam and rogue trader complaints should be reported to Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 4040 506.