Wire Fraud in Real Estate

[ 0 ] February 28, 2016 |
If there is money involved, as there always is in a real estate transaction, there is going to be someone who is trying to take it.

Scams and fraud are everywhere. Craigslist is ripe with people trying to run one scam or another; huge companies like Home Depot have been victim of security breaches that have affected millions, and we have all received the email from the middle eastern prince who needs to give us piles of money if we’ll only grant him access to one of our accounts. Real estate is no different. If there is money involved, as there always is in a real estate transaction, there is going to be someone who is trying to take it.

What the fraudster wants is for you to wire the money into their account, instead of the title company’s account

When purchasing a home, buyers will often use a wire transfer to get their down payment to the title company (where the closing will likely take place). In order to do this, buyers must first have the title company’s wire instructions. The buyers then give the wire instructions to their bank, which directs them where to send the money. What the fraudster wants is for you to wire the money into their account, instead of the title company’s account. One of the ways they do this is by crafting very official looking emails, from email accounts that look like they are from the title company, your bank or even from your Realtor’s office. The fraudulent email will contain altered wire instructions which, if followed, will direct the money directly into the fraudster’s account. Once this transaction is completed, it’s nearly impossible to recover this money.

It is now our practice at Navigate Residential, LLC to never, ever be the source of wire instructions

If Realtors and buyers follow best practice guidelines, there’s no reason we can’t avoid this scam. First off, it is now our practice at Navigate Residential to never, ever be the source of wire instructions. If you get an email from us that includes wire instructions, even if it looks like every other email you have received from us, it is not legitimate. It is now our practice to leave it up to the title company to provide and deliver the wire instructions. Secondly, if you receive an email from the title company with wire instructions, and if you have the email’s origin, we encourage you to make a quick call to the title company to confirm the email is from them and that the wire instructions are correct.

With just a little care, and a little teamwork, we can all avoid scams like this one.

Category: For Buyers, For Sellers, Real Estate

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