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2020-02-14 09:14:26
How To Avoid Wire Fraud

Imagine this:  you're getting ready to close on your home purchase, a scammer tricks you into wiring your down payment to their account.  You lose your money and you lose the house.  Real estate wire fraud is more common than you think.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimated that in 2017 nearly $1 billion was diverted (or attempted to be diverted) to criminal accounts during home-purchase transactions.

How Does Wire Fraud Work?

According to Investors Title, when it comes to real estate-related wire fraud, thieves typically target home buyers in the final stages of their transactions. Hackers gain access to the email accounts of key personnel – whether it be attorneys, mortgage lenders, title companies, buyers, sellers or real estate agents – and monitor their messages for details of the deal as it unfolds. The criminals then create a fake email address that mimics the seller, seller’s agent, a title company, an attorney or other stakeholder in the transaction and sends a request to wire the closing money to a specific account. By copying logos, email signatures and using language that sounds legitimate to the buyers, they are able to fool their victims.

The victim, assuming that the email is a legitimate request and a logical next step in their deal, complies and wires the payment. Once the transfer is completed the money is in the hands of the thief and has likely been lost forever.

How Can I Avoid Wire Fraud?
  • Before sending any wire, call the closing attorney, using their previously confirmed number, to verify the wiring instructions.
  • If you receive wiring instructions for a different bank, branch location, account name or account number, then they should be presumed fraudulent.  Do not send any funds, and contact the closing attorney's office right away!
  • Never send an email to your real estate agent or closing attorney with phrases like 'confirm the wiring instructions', 'I lost the wiring instructions', etc.  Hackers can pounce on these types of subject lines and untimately divert your transfer by replying back fraudulent information.
  • Watch this video for more
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