Fraudsters phishing for expat bank details are plaguing expats in Cyprus with phone calls and emails.
Posing as bogus property agents, the crooks are cold-calling home sellers advertising their properties online.
The crooks claim they work for a United Arab Emirates company called Prime Property Consortium.
The gang sends out emails to property sellers claiming to have seen their home advertised online and that they have an overseas customer interested in making a purchase.
The email then asks the seller to name their best price for the sale.
Later, a second email or phone call follows when the fraudster makes an offer near the asking price for the home.
Then, the trickster asks for the seller’s bank details so a 10% deposit can be paid into the account to settle the deal once a lawyer has a signed contract.
The email asks for the bank name, bank address, account name, account number and IBAN number – the bank’s international reference code.
At this stage, the fraudsters than have the victim’s name, address, bank details and signature.
With this information they can steal the seller’s identity and use the information to carry out fraudulent transactions in their name.
Police have released some of the text of the email sent to home sellers:
“I’ve went to download all the pictures and details about your property, but I need to let you know that I’m purchasing this property for a client who really needed it, we got his friend one property in Monaco, France last April 2014, so the friend introduced him to us.
‘I’ve sent him all the pictures and the information of the property. Meanwhile can you please tell me the best price and every other fee attached to the property so that I can explain everything to the buyer. A Private notary will contact you about the property later. But most importantly what’s the best price of the Property?’
In some cases, the emails and calls purport to come from someone called Luz Bayon, an engineer working for the firm.
Prime Property Consortium is not traded on the UAE Stock Exchange – either in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
“We are investigating a number of complaints against this firm,” said a Cyprus police spokesman.
“We advise that anyone in contact with this firm should contact us with the details and refrain from passing over any personal financial information.”