Wire fraud is on the rise, especially in real estate transactions. Check out this news article where a friend of mine lost nearly $200,000 due to wire fraud.
Our friends at Land Title have provided us with some key things to be on the lookout for to prevent falling victim to a wire fraud scheme:
- Emails that emulate company footers and logos
- Attempts to change wiring instructions (Land Title will never provide or change wiring instructions via email)
- Attempts to target specific payments – diverting payoffs and broker commissions
- Emails trying to divert funds prior to closing
- Phishing emails such as those asking you to renew login credentials or passwords. Be aware of bad grammar and spelling issues as well as an email conveying a sense of urgency. Often this urgency is coupled with details that the contact is unavailable (example: a broker saying that funds have to be sent in the next two hours, and that the agent is in a seminar and can’t take calls…)
Some key tips to follow during a real estate transaction include the following:
- Your Realtor will never ask that you send sensitive information via email
- There should be no reason for you to wire funds to your realtor.
- Prior to wiring funds, contact the intended recipient of the wire and confirm that the wire information is accurate.
- Always double check and verify the phone number provided in the email against a known number for the intended recipient of the wire. A good place to check is the contact information page on the Title Commitment you received.
- Do not open suspicious emails. If you do happen to open an email that looks suspicious, do not click on any links, open any attachments or reply to the email.
We hope this never happens to you. These thieves are smart and move the money out of the account as soon as they receive the stolen funds. In the case of my friend above, the FBI and CBI have told her she will likely never see that money again.
In today’s day and age, it is so easy to just email or text. But when it comes to transferring money, always pick up the phone and personally speak to the person to whom you are wiring and make sure that all of your wiring information is correct.