How Your Money Gets Stolen
- Hacked email – Hackers get access to the email account of someone involved in the transaction – the buyer, seller, real estate agent, mortgage lender, title agent, or other.
- Email from hacker – The hacker then emails that person to change the wiring or payment instructions without knowledge from the other parties.
- Consumer pays wrong account – If not questioned, the wrong account gets the down payment or other funds and the criminal gets away.
- Closing day – By the time closing day arrives and the mistake is realized, often the funds are long gone.
How to Avoid Wire Fraud
Rule 1: Always question emails that contain wiring instructions.
Hackers have learned to exploit the real estate closing process to steal millions of dollars from people buying or selling a home.
Rule 2: Always call before sending any money.
When you do receive instructions on where to send money prior to closing, always call your contact person at the title company to verify. Then call your bank to verify as well.
Rule 3: Always call after sending money.
It’s always a good idea to call right after money is sent. That way, you can verify that it was received by the correct recipient.
Rule 4: Act immediately if anything seems unusual.
Contact your bank, mortgage company, and title company immediately if anything is in question. If something is wrong, you may need to contact your local FBI office.