New Zealand Law Society - House sale scam uses NZ passport

House sale scam uses NZ passport

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New Zealand lawyers are being targeted with an email fraud which uses a scanned New Zealand passport as "proof" of identity. 

The fraudster contacts lawyers by email (often through an online inquiry form) claiming to be John Whiteford (or, sometimes Whitefield) and asking for assistance to sell the property.

Lawyers who respond are sent a second email which has two PDF attachments. One is a photo of a New Zealand passport issued on 3 November 2015 in Sydney to a (genuine) New Zealand citizen who was born in November 1982. The name differs slightly in spelling from those used in the emails.

The second attachment is described by the fraudster as including all required details, including proof of funding.

It is strongly recommended that recipients do not click on the second attachment which is entitled "Doc.PDF".

The passport photo has been reported by a lawyer to the Department of Internal Affairs, which has found hidden links in the documents to sites in several countries.

The first two emails received from the fraudsters read as follows (exactly as received):

First email


I am Mr John Whiteford, I have an interested buyer in my property. The property(House) is freehold and we have agreed on a price. I would like to know the time frame for the process weeks? and what are your fees. I am seeking for your service to kick start the process. Kindly reach me at:

Mr. Whiteford 

Second email


Thanks for your time, I was on a business trip which prompt my inability to connect with you ontime. Sequel to my property. The buyer and i, have finally agreed on a firm price and we are looking towards moving forward.  I am providing you with the following information to enable you to give an accurate quote and timescale. Please see enclosed documents containing the following details.  

My passport, Names on property deed, address of property, price of sale, freehold details, contact of buyer & his solicitor, details of property we also wish to onwardly purchase, proof of fund from Mr. Williams "buyer".  Kindly go through all details so as to confirm your quote accurately before i proceed with the payment. 

Does your fee includes Land registry, or other sundry charges and any other documents or info needed.  On the secured document PDF, the second page is proof of funding from my clients. I will be looking forward to your timely reply.


Mr. Whitefield