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A man has been arrested in Nigeria over the attempted fraudulent sale of a home in Western Australia, in what is believed to be the first arrest of its kind by Australian authorities.
WA Police worked with Consumer Protection and a real estate agent over eight months to intercept the sale of the house in Falcon, south of Perth.
The owners of the home are based in South Africa.
Ntu en Promise Ekenmini, 27, was apprehended by Nigerian authorities yesterday when he went to collect documents using a fake driver’s license in the name of the real home owner.
Police allege the attempted fraud began when a man contacted the property manager of a Mandurah real estate agency on 17 December, 2012, pretending to be the owner of a home being managed by the agency and requesting documents relating to the rented property.
He allegedly used an email address in the name of one of the real owners, who is a resident of Johannesburg, and requested all future correspondence be forwarded to it.
On 18 January, 2013 the agency received a request to sell the property and a sales agreement with false signatures was returned to the agent, together with copies of fake passports of the two owners, a husband and wife, as well as a forged document purporting to be from the Australian High Commission in Pretoria confirming their identity.
The agent became suspicious and reported the attempted fraud to authorities.
In conjunction with the police, the agency engaged with the alleged offender - at one stage instructions were given to deposit $AU785,000 into a bank account in South East Asia.
Detective Senior Sergeant Dom Blackshaw says police are investigating whether the crime is linked to previous cases of real estate fraud in the state.