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Protect Your Money from Wire Fraud Schemes When Buying a Home

by | Apr 12, 2019

Buying and selling a home is an exciting time but there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers.  We want homeowners and sellers to be aware that criminals are using wire fraud schemes to steal money meant for home purchases or the proceeds from the sale of the property.  Criminals often begin the wire fraud process by using email messages website forms or phone calls to steal your email login and password information.  Then hackers will monitor your email messages to learn if you are involved in a real estate transaction.  If you are, criminals will email you fraudulent wire transfer instructions disguise to appear as if they came from professional that may be involved in your transaction.  Buying and selling a home is an exciting time but there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers.  We want homeowners and sellers to be aware that criminals are using wire fraud schemes to steal money meant for home purchases or the proceeds from the sale of the property.  Criminals often begin the wire fraud process by using email messages website forms or phone calls to steal your email login and password information.  Then hackers will monitor your email messages to learn if you are involved in a real estate transaction.  If you are, criminals will email you fraudulent wire transfer instructions disguise to appear as if they came from professional that may be involved in your transaction.

If you receive an email with wiring instructions don’t respond.  If you take the bait your money could be gone in minutes.  Here are four tips to protect against wire fraud:

1. Call don’t email.  Confirm all wiring instructions by phone using a phone number from the title company’s website or business card. If you received an email without changing wire instructions do not call the number in the email.
2. Be suspicious it’s unusual for attorneys or title companies to change wiring instructions and payment info.
3. Confirm everything. Ask your bank to confirm the account number and also the name on the account before sending a wire.
4. Verify immediately.  You should call the title company or real estate agent to validate to the funds were received.

If you have been targeted by a scam you should immediately call your bank and ask them to issue a recall notice for the wire transfer.  Report the crime to www.IC3.gov.  Call your regional FBI office and local police for more direction.

 

Remember, thieves may be after your money. Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts, spoofing emails and email addresses. From there they intercept import information about the transaction such as wire information and account numbers. If you must wire money for a down payment, always call first to confirm that the wire instructions you received are legitimate. Be certain that your funds are being wired to the right person and right account.

After sending money, call the recipient immediately make sure they got it. If not call your bank right away.

Better yet, pay with a cashier’s check. If you deliver the check in person, you’ll know exactly who has your money.

In any case, always carefully review mail addresses. Hackers use phony lookalike return addresses that mimic the real sender’s account. They will often try to pose as a real estate agent, lender or attorney involved in the transaction. Hackers hope to trick you into thinking you are communicating with a trusted professional.

Hackers also spoof phone numbers too, so try to schedule face-to-face meetings when coordinating the transfer of funds.

If you have questions or concerns about the security of funds for your purchase or sale, don’t hesitate to call our office. We are here to help.