FRAUDULENT EMAIL WIRE SCAMS
Fraudulent email wire scams are increasing in the real estate business. Criminals know the real estate business and have learned to take advantage of a busy attorneys’ office or banks’ desire to quickly close and fund deals. The most frequent scenario is when hackers get information that a person is about to wire a large sum of money is by hacking the closing agent’s, real estate attorney’s, settlement agent’s or real estate broker’s email accounts.
Below are a few tips to help combat Wire Fraud to assist you in not becoming a victim:
- Wire and other disbursement instructions received by email must be confirmed verbally by telephone at a known or independently-confirmed number, NOT the telephone number contained in the email. Never wire funds based upon the content of an email only. Confirm the account to which you are wiring is in the name of the party entitled to the funds.
- Be especially skeptical of any change in disbursement/wiring instructions.
- Consider providing YOUR wire instructions to your customers via hard copy only.
- If you suspect a wire or check has been sent fraudulently, immediately notify your bank and contact the recipient bank to have the best chance at securing the funds.
- Be leery of a new transaction coming to your office from an unfamiliar party. Example: “I have a sales contract and a deposit for property I am purchasing, and I was referred to your office. Will your office act as attorney or settlement agent for my transaction?” This conversation is typically followed by a subsequent request to wire out funds originally deposited by check.
- Be suspicious of emails from free, public email account domains as they are often a source of risk.
- Watch out for phishing emails with embedded links, even when they appear to come from a trusted source.
If you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact us.