NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson has made a video to help educate buyers about how to avoid being caught up in a wire fraud scam during their purchase of a residence. And if you are selling a home, you need to be aware of certain procedures too. Probably the most important thing you will do in a real estate transaction today, is understand the risk of wire fraud and learn how to protect yourself. Please take a moment to read this and watch the short video. It could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Thieves are getting smarter and smarter and have found that real estate transactions can yield a huge amount of money very easily. Here’s how they do it:
- First, they hack into someone’s email. It could be the buyer, the agent, the escrow/closing attorney, or even the lender. They monitor the emails waiting for the right time to strike.
- The thieves create official looking signature blocks, official looking wiring instructions.
- Just prior to closing they will send the buyer an email alerting them of a last minute change to the amount of funds the buyer will need to wire for the closing. The “thieves”, which I think is too nice of a word, changes the wiring instructions and the wire is sent to their account. The money is gone forever!
- When you are ready for your bank to initiate a wire transfer for your closing funds, you should call the receiving escrow/closing office on a verified phone number and once again verbally confirm the wiring instructions. You should NEVER forward wiring instructions via email, you likely received them encrypted from the closing office. Our office will never send wiring instructions via email!
- If you are a seller and receiving your funds from the closing office via a wire transfer, be certain you verbally give the information to the office OR better yet, bring your wiring information to the closing and hand it to the attorney.
If you think it can’t happen to you, you’re wrong. This has happened to buyers in the Asheville area, and it is happening all over the US. As REALTORS®, we are doing our absolute best to educate our clients. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, don’t click on any of the links.We will review in detail what you should and shouldn’t be sending via email, and if you aren’t sure, please ask us!