Wire Fraud is on the rise - Targeting Real Estate Transactions
Cybercrime is a real and potential threat in real estate transactions today. To avoid being another victim, pay attention to the warning signs.
PLEASE BE ADVISED - eXp Realty, will NEVER send wiring instructions via email
How this scam works:
Recent instances have occurred where criminals have hacked email accounts of entities related to real estate transactions (such as lawyers, escrow holder's, title company representatives, or real estate brokers and agents). Using email, hackers have invaded real estate transactions and used fraudulent wiring instructions to direct parties to wire funds to the criminals’ bank accounts, often to off-shore accounts, with little chance of recovery. It also appears that some hackers have provided false phone numbers for verifying the wiring instructions. In those cases, the buyers called the number provided to confirm the instructions, and then unwittingly authorized a transfer to somewhere other than escrow. Sellers also have had their sales proceeds taken through similar schemes.
BUYERS AND SELLERS ARE ADVISED:
- Obtain the phone number of the Escrow Officer at the beginning of the transaction from your Realtor.
- NEVER wire funds prior to calling your ESCROW OFFICER to confirm instructions. ONLY use a phone number you were previously provided! (Do NOT use a different phone number included in any emailed wire transfer instructions.
- ALWAYS confirm the wire transfer instruction are legitimate with your escrow officer. Also: confirm the bank routing number, account numbers and other codes before taking steps to transfer the funds.
- Avoid sending personal information in emails or texts. Provide such information in person or over the telephone directly to the Escrow Officer.
- Take steps to secure the system you are using with your email account. These steps include creating strong passwords and using secure WiFi as well as two-step verification processes.
- If an email or a telephone call seems suspicious do NOT take any action until the communication has been verified.
If you think you may have been a victim of this scam, promptly notify your bank, your real estate agent and the Escrow Officer.
The sources below, as well as others, can provide additional information:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation www.fbi.gov
- The National White-Collar Crime Center www.nw3c.org
- On Guard Online: www.onguardonline.gov