In recent months, real estate professionals have reported an upswing in a particularly insidious wire scam. A hacker will break into a licensee’s e-mail account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. After monitoring the account to determine the likely timing of a close, the hacker will send an e-mail to the buyer, posing either as the title company representative or as the licensee. The fraudulent e-mail will contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and will request that the buyer send transaction-related funds accordingly. Unfortunately, some buyers have fallen for this scheme, and have lost money.
How To Protect Yourself:
* The best way to isolate yourself against electronic fraud is not to utilize any electronic mean to transfer money pertaining to a real estate transaction (i.e. electronic transfer of funds, wire transfer, electronic check, direct deposit, etc.).
* If you choose to use an electronic means, protect yourself by never allowing transfer instructions to be communicated electronically or through the mail.
* Never direct, accept or allow anyone in the transaction to consent to receiving transfer instructions without a direct personal telephone call to the individual allegedly providing the instructions.
* It is imperative that this call be made to a number obtained in person from the individual or through other reliable means (i.e. not from a number provided on the wiring instructions).