Real estate wire fraud is rampant in Alexandria and Northern Virginia according to Jay Crowder, Sr. VP for PHH Home Loans in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
As unscrupulous computer wizards become more and more adept at "breaking and entering" computer systems, hacking is moving to a whole new level of engagement in the real estate industry.
One recent encounter saw a fraudulent wire request coming directly from the email account of a real estate agent. The hacker not only sent the wire request from the agent's email account but also sent a copy of the client's HUD-1 form that the mortgage lender had prepared and forwarded to the agent for review. SCARY!
What can you do - as a buyer/seller/agent? Be on the lookout for and question:
- Weird / inconsistent fonts
- Misspelled words
- Double click the email address to verify address is correct
The amount and sophistication of this fraud is increasing on a rapid basis. To be completely safe, do not wire any funds without checking with your agent and/or lending institution.
Finally, take wire fraud very seriously and report any suspicious activity immediately. Not only does this activity hurt the individuals involved but it hurts the entire industry.
Let's be careful out there.