Here's how it went down, I have actually changed the numbers slightly, I don't want to talk specifically about names, amounts, banks involved. I had actually read something about this and then I heard about a specific instance where it happened to a local agent.
1) The agent emails the buyer the wiring instructions.
2) Within nine minutes, a hacker intercepts the email, sends another email to the buyer impersonating the agent. (actually using the agents' email!) instructing the buyer to wire to a different address.
3) The buyer instructs her bank to wire to the new wiring address, so she actually instructs her bank to wire to the hacker's bank account!
4) The bank puts a partial hold on the wire, but the buyer is out $70,000 and as the bank did nothing other than follow the buyer's instruction, the buyer probably has no way to recoup this money.
*Imagine any buyer, the day before close rushing around with twenty things on the to do list and stressed out and wanting to get things done, trusting an agent's email and just going ahead and doing this. That probably describes 95% of us.
*If you are a buyer, pause, think it through. Call the agent, call the Title Company directly and verify.
*A Title Company that I spoke with advises agents not to get involved with sending out wiring instructions. Title Companies send out encrypted emails.