A couple lost their 10 years’ worth of savings, totaling Rs 2 crore, to scammers during a home purchase.

Simon Elvins and his wife were overjoyed after a decade of saving to finally purchase their first home in New South Wales. However, their excitement took a devastating turn when they became victims of a payment redirection scam, highlighting a growing trend of financial frauds around the world.

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In May, Simon received an invoice from his conveyancer requesting the initial home deposit for their property in the Blue Mountains. Following the instructions in an email, Simon transferred a total of $274,311 (approximately Rs 2 crore). However, days went by without any confirmation, prompting the couple to contact the conveyancer and real estate agent. To their dismay, they discovered that criminals had intercepted the email, altered the invoice’s account details, and siphoned off their deposit. Essentially, the scammers halted the money from reaching its intended destination, successfully stealing the funds.

This incident was a classic illustration of a payment redirection scam, a tactic where scammers impersonate legitimate businesses through emails and manipulate recipients into transferring money to an account controlled by the fraudster. The Guardian reported that payment redirection scams are increasingly prevalent, with small businesses losing a staggering $13.7 million to such scams in 2022, marking a significant 95% surge from the previous year.

The money that Simon transferred from his Westpac account to a NAB account vanished within a matter of hours. Despite their attempts to recover the funds, the couple managed to retrieve only $270.72, leaving them in a precarious financial situation.

After navigating through legal challenges, Simon and his wife managed to retain their home by providing a 10 percent deposit to the real estate agent. Nevertheless, they are now saddled with a larger mortgage than originally anticipated. The couple advocates for banks to assume a greater role in safeguarding customers against sophisticated scams, as the responsibility for verifying transactions currently rests on the customers themselves.

In a separate incident, an IT professional named Anupam Jain from Bengaluru faced a distressing experience during his return from Chicago via London on a British Airways flight. Jain’s suitcase, containing valuable items like a laptop, Apple Watch, AirPods, a child’s backpack, and a Kindle, went missing. Jain reported the missing bag upon landing at Bengaluru Airport on July 28. However, upon reaching his residence, he discovered that another suitcase had been tampered with and left unlocked. Suspecting foul play at London’s Heathrow Airport, Jain observed that his electronics had been transferred to a backpack meant for his daughter, and the suitcase was resealed. The initial lack of assistance from British Airways led to frustration and delays, highlighting the ordeal faced by travelers in such situations.

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