October 1, 2022

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A Queensland family has lost their life savings after falling victim to an email scam targeting businesses and home buyers.
Mitch Wilson and Penny Davies thought they were settling their dream home on the Gold Coast ahead of the birth of their second child, but instead lost tens of thousands of dollars to scammers.

“We got an email from the real estate agent we had been dealing with from their email account saying in light of the contract please pay money to this account,” Wilson said.

Wilson and Davies say they’re devastated after losing tens of thousands of dollars in an email scam. (Nine)

The couple transferred $39,000 to the supplied bank account.

But days later, their agency contacted them saying they hadn’t received the money.

“We went back and forth, we exchanged screenshots and emails from their side and ours, and what was obvious is the money didn’t go where it was supposed to go which was their account,” Wilson said.

“Ended up in some fraudster’s account and then offshore to a crypto account.

Davies said she’s devastated that years of savings were lost within seconds.

“It plays over and over in my head all of the time,” she said.

Wilson and Davies are the latest victims of what police are calling an email compromise scam.

Hackers are believed to be targeting businesses, like real estate agencies, and secretly taking control of their email accounts.

The pair said they received an email, seemingly from their real estate agent. (Nine)

When an invoice is sent, the hackers change the bank account numbers for payments and then forward the invoice to the unsuspecting customer.

“These people with these skills, they’re very cunning, they’re very calculated,” Ian Wells from the Queensland Police Service Cyber Crime Group said.

Matt Wilson from Sold Street Real Estate, Mitch Wilson and Davie’s real estate agent, has cut all communication with the pair.

While the couple has lost their home, the agency made tens of thousands of dollars in commission on the sale of the house.

Matt Wilson has refused to pay any of his commission to the devastated couple.

He refused 9News’ request for comment.

The ‘Hi Mum’ phone scam targeting vulnerable parents

Commercial lawyer Shane Grant said “unfortunately the thing is most of these are occurring in commercial transactions where there are two innocent parties.”

Police advise homebuyers to contact businesses and verify bank account numbers when paying invoices online.

“It can happen to anybody,” Mitch Wilson said.

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