ACT Government ordered to pay compensation after Nigerian scam gets house

ACT Government ordered to pay compensation after Nigerian scam gets house
ACT Government ordered to pay compensation after Nigerian scam gets house

A woman whose Canberra house was stolen by overseas scammers has sued the ACT government to recoup her money.

She was awarded $546,268 compensation yesterday.

"The evidence of the plaintiff in the present case was that she intended to keep the property and ultimately leave it to her children," he said in his decision.

The international fraudsters pocketed $430,000 when they sold the four-bedroom Canberra house in 2014 in a sophisticated scam spanning several months and countries, including South Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

The owner lived in South Africa at the time.  

The ACT Supreme Court has been told the thieves went to elaborate lengths to steal the MacGregor home, conning real estate agents, lawyers and a bank.

The fraudsters are yet to be caught two years after the fraud came to light after its 2014 sale. 

It was only the third time an Australian property has been sold fraudulently with two successful sales in 2011 and six attempted property frauds in Western Australia.

"I have never given instructions to anyone to sell the property on my behalf. I never had any intention of selling the property as I wanted to keep it for as long as I could and then pass it on to my children," the victim said in an affidavit obtained by Fairfax Media.

The fraud stripped the victim of any right to the property, which was legally transferred to the innocent purchaser couple.

Registered real estate purchases made in good faith are protected by the ACT Land Titles Act.

The woman is now suing the ACT government for statutory compensation, seeking damages for the property value, stamp duty and legal costs along with lost rental income.

The government disagrees that she is entitled to recover damages from the government.

"The plaintiff has a remedy against the fraudster under section 154 of the Act and must first take action against him or her before she may take action against the defendant," the government said in its submission.

Associate Judge David Mossop has reserved his decision.

The international fraudsters pocketed $430,000 when they sold the four-bedroom Canberra house in 2014 in a sophisticated scam spanning several months and countries, including South Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

The owner lived in South Africa at the time. 

The ACT Supreme Court has been told the thieves went to elaborate lengths to steal the MacGregor home, conning real estate agents, lawyers and a bank.

The fraudsters are yet to be caught two years after the fraud came to light after its 2014 sale.

"I have never given instructions to anyone to sell the property on my behalf. I never had any intention of selling the property as I wanted to keep it for as long as I could and then pass it on to my children," the victim said in an affidavit obtained by Fairfax Media.

The fraud stripped the victim of any right to the property, which was legally transferred to the innocent purchaser couple.

Registered real estate purchases made in good faith are protected by the ACT Land Titles Act.

The woman is now suing the ACT government for statutory compensation, seeking damages for the property value, stamp duty and legal costs along with lost rental income.

The government disagrees that she is entitled to recover damages from the government.

"The plaintiff has a remedy against the fraudster under section 154 of the Act and must first take action against him or her before she may take action against the defendant," the government said in its submission.

Associate Judge David Mossop has reserved his decision.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

Tags: 
Scam Compensation

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