You are about to settle on your home. You receive an email from your real estate agent or title company, requesting funds be wired to an account for settlement, which also informs you of a last minute change in writing instructions. Upon the request, you wire the money using the new instructions.
A few days later, you receive a call from your title company, asking why you have not sent your funds for settlement. This is the moment you realize you have been SCAMMED. This wire transfer scheme is nothing new. However, the increase in its sophistication and the prevalence of wire fraud in the real estate industry has prompted the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to issue warning bulletins.
According to the NAR, the hackers are monitoring emails and waiting to determine the best possible scam. They realize these real estate transactions involve large amounts of money right before settlement. Someone in Chicago recently lost $130,000, and in Texas there was a reported loss of $30,000. The scams are getting harder to catch, too. Hackers have improved their grammar and obtain almost identical email addresses to the broker or title company the seller / buyer is working with, making it very difficult to identify the scam.
Below are some tips for buyers and sellers to protect themselves from becoming a victim of wire fraud:
- Never send sensitive financial information via email. This includes bank account routing numbers, PIN numbers, security codes, etc.
- Prior to doing a wire transfer, you should contact the intended recipient by phone and confirm the wiring information and instructions are correct.
- Change your email usernames and passwords on a regular basis.
- Clean out your email account. Your email use can establish patterns in your business practice, which hackers can pick up on and use against you.
- Make sure you have the most up-to-date firewalls and anti-virus software on your computer. Download these from a trusted source, like your internet service provider.
- If you suspect any fraudulent activity, report it immediately to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
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Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.