The High Risks of Wire Fraud

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage BRE#01732313

Let’s Take a Step Back

FraudsterBy now, most of us have heard a first-hand story about an instance where a buyer or seller has been a victim of fraud during a real estate transaction.

The scams are merciless, with fraudsters hacking into emails of real estate agents, title and escrow companies, even inspectors or other related businesses that might give them access to transaction events and timelines. They then pose as an industry professional, gain sensitive financial information and empty the bank accounts of unknowing victims.

During your transaction there are several times where your personal, confidential information is required.

  • At the time of your earnest money deposit (buyer)
  • When providing a statement of information (both buyer and seller)
  • When your down-payment is required (buyer)
  • When you are conveying where your sale proceeds are be sent (seller)

Yes, wire transfers can be somewhat more convenient but the chaos that results if fraud occurs is monumental. Steps have been taken to inform/warn the public of these predatory risks, such as wire fraud advisories.

Taking these extra precautions will help protect your finances and give you peace of mind. Read how:

1. Most brokerages will require you to sign advisories about wire fraud at the onset when you enter into a purchase or sale agreement. READ IT! If you receive it electronically, don’t just click and sign. Ask your agent to explain it if you don’t understand it.

2. Your agent should provide you with the contact name and information for your escrow officer, as well as your escrow number. Convey any confidential information to that person directly, either on the phone or in person. Do not send electronic communications to convey sensitive information.

3. Do not click on any links regarding wire transfer instructions from escrow companies, even if they appear to be legitimate. Escrow companies are not sending wire transfer information electronically, but scammers are sending messages that appear to be legit to hijack the data.

4. If escrow calls you needing personal and confidential information, don’t provide that information to the caller. It may legitimately be your escrow officer. But, to know for sure, hang up, call back in to the number you were provided at the start of the transaction and ask for your escrow officer by name. Take control and protect your sensitive financial information.

5. Even better, go to the escrow company in person if practical. These extra precautionary steps are certainly worth the time invested, to protect your VERY large monetary investment.

Comments (4)

Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Karen, this is good advice. Unfortunately, fraudsters come up with ever new schemes to get to money. We have to be very aware and careful. 

Nov 03, 2017 05:53 PM
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

Indeed we do Silvia.

Nov 06, 2017 08:27 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Hi Karen! What a wonderful reminder! We are seeing that here in Charlotte as well and now I have clients who will notify me, "Okay, wire has been sent - and YES, I called the attorney's office and verified the instructions first!" Sadly, you have to instill fear in them in order to protect them.

Great post!

Jan 28, 2018 06:35 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Karen

I missed this before but it can't be said too many times, given the increasing problems we are seeing. The more education, and caution, the better.


Jan 28, 2018 08:19 AM