Be Aware of Wire Fraud
When you’re in the process of buying a home there are many, many emails, texts and phone calls going back and forth between you, your lender, your real estate agent (me), the title company, inspectors and the list goes on. Some are legitimate, such as the emails your agent sends with links to contracts and addendums you need to sign, but some are not.
Scammers have figured out how to hack into the email accounts of people involved in real estate deals and other projects that involve wiring money and they monitor the transaction as it progresses. At just the right time, the fraudster sends you an email that appears to be coming from your real estate agent or the escrow officer with ‘updated’ wire transfer directions and asks that you wire money for the closing, sometimes making it appear that time is of the essence and if you fail to wire within a certain time-frame you’ll be in default of the contract.
1. Do NOT click on any links in a text or an email unless you verify by calling the sender. Beware of pressure or a ‘Rush Request.’ Look for misspellings, odd or incorrect words, spelling, or phrases, and return email addresses that are incorrect.
2. Read the fine print. Nearly every title company and every REALTOR® have warnings on their email footers that say something like:
**Be aware! Online banking fraud is on the rise. If you receive an email containing WIRE TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS call your escrow officer immediately to verify the information prior to sending funds.**
WARNING! *** FRAUD ALERT***
Borrowers, buyers and sellers are targets for wire fraud. To avoid becoming a victim, never trust wiring instructions or changes to wiring instructions sent via email. Always call your escrow officer at a known phone number to confirm wiring instructions prior to wiring any funds.
***Always call a verified phone number before you wire. Call us immediately if you receive an email with wire instructions.
3. Call -- don’t email. Call the number on the title company’s website or business card. NOT the number in the email.
4. Be suspicious. Title companies rarely change wiring instructions. If the sender refuses phone calls and wants to do business by email only, it may be fraud.
5. Confirm everything. Call the title company and ask for wiring instructions. Ask the bank to confirm account name and number before sending the wire.
6. Validate immediately. Call title company or your Real Estate Agent to confirm the funds were received.
If you’ve been scammed
Immediately call the bank and ask for a recall of the wire. Call the authorities, your local police, and the regional FBI.
Moving cash around has never been easier. Always be alert to fraud.
Watch this video of a recent wire fraud scam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62F4wOefwoc
(The Vicki in the story is not me! I spell
my name with an ie. 😉)