HACKED OUT OF HOME
Here is our side of the story...
· We sold our family home and settled our property on 15 June 2018, some of the funds from this sale ($250,000) was to be used to complete the settlement of our new home on the Mornington Peninsula (our dream to live by the sea!)
· Our conveyancer was transferring the funds to our bank account to complete our settlement for our new property, however on Monday 18 June our money was taken by a hacker who compromised the workspace of a software system called PEXA by hacking into our conveyancer’s email account, pressing the ‘forgot password’ button, intercepting the email to create a new password, logging in and unbeknown to our conveyancer created a new user. The hacker then changed the bank details of our transfer to their bank account.
· PEXA claim that they are not liable for a hacker compromising the workspace of a user’s account and that they have a two-step verification process. However, from our perspective it is alarming that our conveyancer did not receive any notification from the software that a new user had been created and passwords had been changed. There should be an alert not just via email but also via SMS like most financial software.
· To put it in perspective PEXA not claiming responsibility or liability for this is like your online bank account being hacked and your money being transferred from your account and your bank saying it’s not our fault and not notifying you. The banks would NOT do this, they have 100% guarantee that if your online banking workspace / account is compromised they will refund the money. We argue that PEXA should have the same guarantee in place to protect users and their client’s money in cases of proved cyber fraud / hacking like the big banks do. With such large sums of money being transferred it seems crazy that they don’t and we believe this system will be a target for cyber crime in the future because of the large sums of money being transferred.
· What is most alarming to us and for all Australian’s is that this system of e-conveyancing is becoming compulsory for all property settlements as of October in Victoria and WA and as soon as 1 July for NSW. This means if you are buying or selling a property you will not have a choice but to use this platform.
· There is a large group of conveyancers and solicitors rallying against this as they don’t believe the software is ready at this stage because of the risk of cyber fraud cases like ours amongst other reasons. However, there is a lot of money to be made by the governments (who part-own the software) as PEXA is seeking a 1 billion dollar IPO (initial public offering) to list on the ASX later this year. If this happens it is our understanding that the Land Titles Office will be sold by the State Government as they could raise 100 million dollars from the sale. But at what cost?
· Going back to our story…. We were told on Monday that our money had been stolen and redirected to a CBA account, the CBA were informed by PEXA and froze that money. We were told that the ‘funds had been frozen’ but the CBA would not put in writing that this was the case. We were made to believe our money was recoverable. It was not until the CBA made our conveyancer sign an indemnity form, wiping their hands of all responsibility, that they told us a few minutes before our new property was due to be settled on Wednesday that approx. $107,000 was missing and was unrecoverable. We’ve never experienced anything like this feeling, total utter heartbreak and disgust in the system we have trusted in all our lives and a government that is supposed to protect us from ever being in a situation like this.
· We are now in a position where the owners of our new property have put a default notice on our property and we now have 12 days and counting to come up with more than $108,000 as we are getting charged approx. $500 a day in interest until we can come up with the money, potential total of $120,000. We feel bad for the owners of our new property as they too are affected by this.
· We now have to turn to our friends and family to come up with the money to avoid losing $80,000 deposit on our new home, plus $120,000 shortfall for settlement (in total $200,000) and so that we will not loose our new dream home that we have been tirelessly working for our whole lives.
· Unfortunately our conveyancers insurance claim is going to be a long winded process and we will not receive any money back for potentially months – although we are hoping / praying we will be able to get our money back through this process.
We are now in the position to have to ask friends and family to donate to our cause. This breaks our heart as we are not the type of people to ask for handouts. We can’t believe we have found ourselves in this position as we have always been responsible with our money and have worked for everything that we have achieved in our lives.
We hope that we will repay the money back to you when the insurance investigation is over and our money has been returned, but this may take months. We are people of honour and we have we can put our good faith in you and you can trust us that we will do everything in our power to repay donations.
If you would like to donate we ask that you email us directly after you have donated so that we can keep your details on file so we can repay you when the time is right.
Thanks so much in advance,
Chris Burgess, Dani Venn, Harlow and Oscar
PS - You can read the story The Age and SMH ran here: READ OUR STORY
We are also very happy to note that PEXA will be improving the security of their platform and also be offering a customer guarantee that will ensure that all money is safe on their platform and anyone that experiences cyber hacking will be refunded immediately so to prevent the trauma and pain that we have experienced this past week.
The outcome is very positive but of course we have you to thank for supporting us and what you believe in. People power has paid off. So we will always remember your generosity.
We are now in a position where we are able to pay back your donation or pay it forward to the charity Cottage By The Sea, a safe place by the beach in Queenscliff, Victoria for disadvantaged children to visit and stay and engage in life changing and empowering programs so they can live happy lives. Visit cottagebythesea.org.au for more information. Please don't feel pressured to donate, you do what's right for you.
If you would like to pay your donation forward please let us know within the next 24 hours. Please note that we can only pay back or pay forward your donation in full.
If you would like your donation returned we will do this via the Go Fund Me software by tomorrow night. This may take up to 10 days to process.
We are unsure whether there will be a Go Fund Me fee when we press 'refund' so if there is money missing please get in contact with us with your bank details and we can ensure that the remaining funds get to you.
Once again, thank you so much!!!
Dani, Chris, Harlow and Dani
We hope through this campaign that one of the parties involved in this situation other than our friends, family, the general public and ourselves can give us back our money unconditionally and so that we can refund your kind donations immediately. It just isn't right, but by donating to us, we feel you are voting for us and standing by what you think is right, so thank you.
If you haven't already realised this issue will also affect you as from October in Victoria and SA and 1 July in NSW you will have no choice but to use this software platform to settle your property as e-conveyancing is becoming mandatory.
If you are worried about this, please share our story and raise your voice and concern to government to stop this from happening as the platform is clearly not ready. However as the shareholders of PEXA alarmingly are the State Governments (Qld, Vic, SA, NSW) are set to receive up to 1 billion dollars later this year as PEXA is set to go public with an ASX, the governments (who are supposed to protect us) but at whose expense??
Thanks once again,
Dani, Chris, Harlow and Oscar