Wire Fraud is a damaging crime. Victims of wire fraud can innocently think they are following directions only to learn that wired funds are lost, gone from their bank accounts. Preventing wire fraud requires vigilance on the part of everyone in a real estate transaction.
Title companies are selected in a real estate contract and subsequently financial dealings and transferring money involves title companies. Hackers have become adept at gaining information by hacking accounts of those involved in real estate sales. Real estate agents, title companies, buyers and sellers are targeted as hackers know money will be transferred. Intercepting that transfer is where due diligence is of the utmost importance.
At one of my recent HomeSmart Elite Group meetings, two real estate attorneys were invited to speak about wire fraud. They spoke of recent issues, but most importantly the things that we agents can do to inform our clients of this scam so they won't experience this type of fraud.
Here is a short list of their recommendations for our buyer and seller clients who are receiving emails appearing to come from title companies. Be wary if you receive an email:
Explaining you can't reach the escrow officer, just wire the money;
That don't originate from title companies;
With incorrect email addresses from "title companies;"
Received after 5 pm requesting wire transfer changes;
Using bad grammar and English; and
Using Swift codes (not a US code)
If you receive an email from a title company, call your agent and title company and ask for clarification. They will advise if the email is legitimate. Do not call the number in the email as that could be the hacker's phone number.
Emails should never ask for personal, financial information.
For more resources visit:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (scams and safety)
And if you're experienced wire fraud, notify your bank immediately.