WIRING FRAUD, WHAT TO WATCH FOR - Coastal Florida Real Estate


Security, in particular cyber-security, has become the sign of the times we live in.  After 9/11, everyone has become aware threats are out there and you are admonished that “If you see something, say something”.
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 Well, what about the threats that are not as apparent?  Let’s talk about them for a minute.
Bank robber Willie Horton is credited with this line when asked why he robbed banks: “That’s where the money is”.
Not anymore.  The money is in cyber space where criminals of all sizes and shapes are lurking.  And with the use of VPN’s, it is hard to even figure out who the criminals are.
But when you consider that large or even huge sums of money are changing hands in a real estate transaction, you can see why criminals are desperately trying to make inroads into these deals.

Never Trust Wiring Instructions

In the old days, funds to close were conveyed using Cashier’s Checks.  But these became victims of fraud so no closing agent will accept them anymore.

All funds must be wired to the closing agent.

Now, wiring itself is secure since it is directly between institutions.  What is open to fraud are the wiring instructions issued to buyers allegedly from the closing agent, title company, lawyer or real estate agent.

Here’s how it works.

Closing agent or real estate agent has their email account hacked.  Criminals comb through the emails until they find an on-going transaction that has yet to close.

When it is time to send wiring instructions to the buyer, the criminals substitute their account number for the real number.  These emails are convincing and sophisticated.

Ask John Podesta if these phony emails can look real.
Anyway, when new instructions are received, the buyer wires the money directly to the crooks.  And there is NO REMEDY if this occurs.
The money is simply GONE!

The Take Away

Never trust an email, period.

If you are wiring money anywhere in a real estate transaction, verify all wiring instructions verbally.

I know of title companies, agents, brokers and lawyers who have all been victims of hacking.

If you would like to discuss your real estate goals and how to meet them, contact me using the form below.

Richard Sites, Realtor