The New Zealand Law Society is warning New Zealand property lawyers about an email scam in which lawyers are asked to act on behalf of an Englishman for the purchase of a house in New Zealand.
The Law Society's Financial Assurance Manager, Diane Bradley, said today that the scam contains quite detailed information on the house and also includes a photo of a fake passport.
The scammer - who identifies himself as "Mike Garry" - is contacting lawyers by email saying he lives in London and is moving to New Zealand with his family in a few months. He says he has obtained the lawyer's contact details from the Law Society's Property Law Section website.
"While a lot of email scams contain very little New Zealand-specific information and are sent to lawyers around the world, this one is targeted right at New Zealand property lawyers," Ms Bradley said.
"Several of the emails we have seen say the house is located at Pukehina beach near Te Puke and that it has been viewed by Mike Garry's cousin. The scammer asks the lawyer to act for him and to send details of their bank account for deposit of the full purchase price."
Ms Bradley said that the usual pattern for such scams was for the scammer to send a forged cheque which was then banked by the lawyer.
It was likely that the plan for this particular scam involved payment of the money in the lawyer's account to an accomplice.
"Email scams which target lawyers are relatively common unfortunately," she said. "Any lawyer who believes they may have received an email from a scammer can contact the Law Society or check the special scam section on our my.lawsociety website. We also recommend that lawyers should not engage in correspondence with the scammer."