Western Australia has experienced two instances within the last 12 months where real property appears to have been sold without the owner’s consent. In both cases, the owner  (registered proprietor) was residing outside of WA and it appears that they were victims of identity theft.

In both instances the police suspect that the fraud originated in Nigeria. There were many similarities to both frauds, namely the ‘owner’ was overseas at the time of the sale. The real estate agent and settlement agent were asked to expedite the sale because the funds were needed for a petrochemical project and the funds after settlement were deposited into a Chinese Bank.

The WA state government has since implemented a system whereby the seller of a property must produce evidence of identity in much the same way as bank customers must when opening an account.

When you appoint your settlement agent, you will be asked to produce identification showing photo ID. You will gain points for each identity document that is produced to a total of 100 points. (see list a)

Your documents must then be certified by a person on the following list (b) who will declare that they have sighted the original documents and copies of those certified documents should be attached to the Identifiers Certificate.

One of the consequences of the Torrens System of land transfer is that a purchaser who acquires land through a forged or fraudulent instrument, but is not a party to the fraud, will receive an indefeasible title on registration of the forged or fraudulent instrument, and the former owner will not be entitled to have the title restored or to monetary compensation from the new owner/purchaser.

Contact Riverside Settlements to find out how you protected against this happening.

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