Friday, September 17, 2010

New Identity theft sounds like an HGTV reality show - "Steal My House"

ZDNet reported this week that a Western Australian man was the victim of a new bizarre twist of identity theft.

According to the report, Roger Mildenhall, was contacted by a neighbor saying he had seen one of his investment houses for sale.  Mildenhall looked into it and found that it was for sale .  He was also surprised to learn that he sold another property in June.  In this economy, you might jump for joy.  Roger was dumbfounded since he never intended to sell these properties - this was done unauthorized by him.

ALL transactions were made via email, telephone, and fax.  No human interaction.

The report indicates that alleged scammers hacked into Mildenhall's email account.  From there they were able to get to his personal and property documents.  They sold the house and sent the cash to bank accounts in China.

So far, the investigation has not found any wrongdoing by the real estate agent.

In the meantime, Roger Mildenhall, is half a million dollars poorer.

1.  Strong email passwords
2.  Do not reuse passwords
3.  Avoid sending sensitive information, such as property data, via email
4.  U.S. Banks and Mortgage companies may want to review their fraud prevention processes

ZDNet, "Crims use hacked email to steal house", Darren Pauli, September 14, 2010

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