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Fraud, are you Immune?

In the busy world of Real Estate, it can be easy to overlook certain things when you get busy. Couldn’t balance your trust account one day? Out by $50 here, $20 there. Or what if it isn’t that obvious – the accounts balance, but do they?

Having a two person check on your reconciliation, including your bond reconciliations, can often be the difference between right and wrong. Don’t just sign off, really look at the numbers! Even if it’s not malicious, sometimes mistakes happen that can cost you thousands, not to mention the compliance issues that accompany it.

Ask your team for an explanation when you see an ‘unknown’ deposit and ensure that the following day this item has been rectified. Check on all adjustments to uncover what they are and what actions are being taken to rectify them, and check again until they are cleared! All too often these items get put in the ‘too hard’ basket until the trust accounts could potentially be tens of thousands in the red! 

Another issue we see in this industry is identity fraud. Is this person really the owner of the property? Ensuring you identify the owner of a property correctly is essential for compliance when selling or leasing a property. Ask for a copy of the persons driver’s licence and a recent outgoings invoice, which will ensure the correct details are being recorded. When accounting to these clients, ensure that the bank account name matches the property owners name and verify the written instructions with either the acting parties solicitors or with the acting party themselves.

If you suspect fraud, stop any account actions on the property or account. Then contact the State or local Police and Fair Trading and seek instructions on how to manage the dealings going forward before alerting the offending party to your suspicions.

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