Over the past few years, wire fraud has increased exponentially- threatening the security of real estate transactions by preying on victims who fall for their aggressive tactics. In 2017, according to the Miami Herald $969 million was “diverted or attempted to be diverted” from real estate purchase transactions and wired to “criminally controlled” accounts. Hijacking real estate transactions is now the fastest growing real estate cyber-crime in the U.S.
How does wire fraud work?
Scammers employ a variety of tactics: some as simple as a fraudulent vishing phone call attempt to more complex social engineering schemes to acquire a customer’s confidential information. Previously, Scammers would target title companies and real estate agents email accounts to acquire information about home sellers and from there provide their own wire instructions. As a result, the unsuspecting title company would wire funds directly into the fraudsters account.
As Title Companies and real-estate agencies began recognizing the scheme, scammers evolved. They now target a different side of the real estate transaction, homebuyers. Fraudsters will use a realistic fake email address, personifying someone you might have been working with at a title company and from there send alternate wire instructions. Scammers will also call unsuspecting homebuyers posing as title or real estate agents with a fake story regarding why the wiring instructions are changing and provide fake valid looking wiring instructions.
How Bosshardt Title Insurance Agency Can Protect You
All communication through our emails and closing software data are fully end to end encrypted. Bosshardt title Insurance Agency ALWAYS sends wiring instructions directly the parties, with clear instructions about our procedures. We NEVER send our wiring instructions to anyone other than the buyer, lender, or seller. The format of our wire instructions requires verbal verification prior to any wire initiation.
How to Protect Yourself
Verify emails asking for contact information, document signing, wiring instructions, etc. are sent from a valid source by looking at the domain and signature lines of the sender. While criminals can easily copy a title or real-estate agents email username and or signature lines, pay attention email senders domain after the “@”. Does it match exactly how it should based on previous emails? Don’t ever respond to emails from any person, even your real estate agent if it is regarding a change in wiring instructions.
ALWAYS call your title company after receiving wiring instructions and verbally verify them. As an extra measure of security, do not call the number on the wiring instructions, instead go the title company’s website and or call a number you trust to be valid.
Rest assured that all our security protocols are in place to protect you and your money. We urge you to forward us any suspicious looking emails to our office so our team can investigate and prosecute in accordance with the law.