7/27/2017

Wire Fraud in Real Estate Is An Unfortunate Fact

Don't be a victim of wire fraud and lose your mortgage money.  This has happened, right here in Southern California, and it can cost everyone involved.  Here is how one article by Colleen Tressler on the FTC website explains it:
"The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors® are warning home buyers about an email and money wiring scam. Hackers have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again."
 So, real estate professionals including Realtors and escrow companies are now explaining how NOT to have this happen.  Although I recently attended a talk given by an FBI official who stated Gmail is actually pretty secure, there is also a two-step verification process in Gmail which makes emails much more secure.  And now, escrow companies are not taking or sending out wire instructions via ordinary email but instead using alternate methods to send instructions to clients in escrow.  A general warning to anyone in an escrow is to know who you are dealing with and to not accept emails as described above. Responsible escrow companies are now giving instructions in advance, and Realtors are advising their clients.  Any site that financial information goes through should have a "https" configuration in the browser bar.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Never trust wiring instructions sent via email. Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts and sending emails with fake wiring instructions. These emails are convincing and sophisticated. Always independently confirm wiring instructions in person or via a telephone call to a trusted and verified phone number. Never wire money without double-checking that the wiring instructions are correct.

Any suspicious sources should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

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