Real estate wire fraud and how to avoid it
Here’s how they scammed James and Candace Butcher.
James and Candace were in the process of buying their dream home. They wanted to live closer to their grandchildren and have a nice place for them to visit. This was for retirement and they had been looking forward to this day for more than forty years.
They sold their current home, bought another and they were getting ready for the closing.
Their last step was a $272,000 wire to the title company.
They received the wiring instructions from the title company.
Or, it appeared that way.
The wire was sent and the money debited from their account. However, it did not arrive at the title company as planned.
Someone had hacked into the email system of the lender, the title company or both. These hackers were the ones who actually sent the wire instructions.
Since the instructions came from the lender’s system, the Butchers did not think twice about the email. Everything on the instructions was correct, except the account and routing numbers.
In less than a minute their dreams went up in smoke and their account was empty.
The best way to avoid this type of fraud is to be aware of it. Most people are incredibly busy and full of emotion when it comes time to wire the proceeds. It’s understandable why someone could make this mistake in the heat of the moment.
Here’s some tips from the National Association of Realtors on preventing wire fraud
- Do not send or accept wire instructions via email. Email the the #1 target of the scam.
- If you receive wire instructions or sensitive information via email, make sure it’s encrypted.
- Prior to wiring any money, call a verified number to double check the instructions.
- Never conduct business over unsecured wifi.
- Always use a secure email system with two factor authentication.
- Never use passwords that are easy to guess.
- Trust your instincts. If it doesn't seem right, check and check again.
One thing is certain. I will never send you wire instructions. They will always come from your title company or lender.
If you have concerns about fraud, then give me a call at 615.519.0983. I’d love to answer your questions and share the steps we take to keep you safe and secure.
The Daily Deal in Nashville is a renovated 3 bedroom cottage in the Nations and listed for less than $230,000.