Wednesday, February 20, 2019 / by Cary Crowe
Wire Fraud Warning For Homebuyers
The growing issue of wire fraud is happening in our real estate industry in Utah. There are people who are watching your email and when you are closing the deal and are ready to wire money to the seller, they pose themselves as the title company to have you wire that money to them instead.
Once your money is wired, it’s gone and you will not get it back.
How does a wire fraud work?
We recently had a client who received an email which apparently looked from our company. The email dropped into their inbox after the closing disclosure had gone out to the client. The disclosure document basically tells the client what they need to bring in to the closing. It also includes all of the figures and charges of the deal.
Since someone was watching their email they included the exact amount and prompted the client to wire the amount to them. The client was cautious enough and so he texted the agency the email snapshot in order to confirm. It was easy for us to figure out that this was a wire fraud.
It’s usually not small money that people are wiring. In this case it was $11,000 but since this is happening around, people have lost all of their life savings in the wake of it.
The email that was hacked or being watched over was not that of the company but the buyer’s personal email. The guy watched for the disclosure document, replicated an email ID of the company representative and tried to delve into a fraud wire transfer of the exact same amount. They even tried to copy the bottom signature to look genuine. It’s usually easy to miss out on small details.
How to avoid such fraud wire emails?
A trusted Real Estate Agent
First, work through a real estate agent. Go to a trusted source because they, being in the industry, are well aware of what is going around and can potentially guide you from getting trapped.
Clear instructions beforehand
Get straight and very clear instructions from the title company about the entire process before the process starts. Make notes of the timeline and keep contact information saved with you.
Cross check with the company
Keep in mind that the title company is not going to change their wire instructions. They have a name and a reputation for who they are. If you see someone from the company (apparently) saying you to wire them money instead of the company for so and so reason, don’t.
Call the title company directly and don’t email them back per se because you could be emailing back to the fraud company that you thought is the title company in the first place.
The routing number and the account number of the title company is always going to be the same. So, in case you get these details be sure to verify with the title company.
These were our insights on the growing issue of wire fraud, and what you as homebuyers and sellers can do to protect yourselves.
Contact us at www.RealDealUtah.com to see how we can best serve you.