This isn’t a new scam but it is one that is becoming more prevalent..and this is a warning to anyone who is in a position to wire funds in a real estate transaction. Hackers are obtaining details about transactions online that make it seem they are truly involved in the transaction with names of buyers, sellers, title company’s all accurate. Those hackers know closing dates and will contact a buyer to divert their deposit money that is being wired to the title company…a buyer can lose their entire deposit which if wired to a fake account can then be diverted off shore and never seen again.
IF YOU PLAN TO WIRE FUNDS ANYWHERE PICK UP THE PHONE AND VERIFY THE DETAILS..DO NOT DEPEND ON ANY EMAILS…BEFORE YOU DO THE WIRE.
REALTORS® and consumers should consider the following guidance to help prevent fraud before it occurs:
· Be secure. Secure your network and any devices used to access the Internet.
· Communicate in person or by phone. Never send sensitive information, including wire payment information, by email. Verify sensitive information with a person you know, not a new contact person given to you for verification purposes.
· Don’t open unfamiliar emails. Be aware of unusual requests, such as a business contact using a personal email address after previously using a company email address.
· Knowledge is power. Alert clients to the possibility of fraudulent activity targeting real estate transactions. Educate clients about the potential risks associated with wiring instructions received by email.
· Verify, verify, verify. Instruct clients to verify all emails regarding the transfer of funds with all parties involved in the transaction. Prior to wiring any funds, the wirer should contact the intended recipient and confirm that payment instructions are accurate. Do not rely on contact information from an unverified source, as hackers may provide fake contact information and/or fake websites in furtherance of their scheme.