Attention Real Estate Brokers: Buyers and Sellers are targets for wire fraud and many have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because they simply relied on the wire instructions received via email.
A hacker may break into a real estate licensee’s email account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. After monitoring the account to determine the likely timing of a close, the hacker may send an email to the buyer, posing either as the escrow agent or as the licensee. The fraudulent email may contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and request that the Buyer send funds accordingly.
With scammers increasingly targeting real estate transactions, the National Association of REALTORS® is teaming up with the FBI and brokerages like The Cascade Team Real Estate to educate the industry and public on how to identify and help avoid wire fraud schemes. A particular cause for concern is hackers who send fake emails to home buyers on the cusp of closing on a property purchase, providing bogus wiring instructions. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been stolen from consumers who fall prey to such scams.
Here we highlight three ways to help protect buyers from scammers:
1. Pay attention to how wire instructions are sent. It is best to only accept instructions that are secure and encrypted.
2. Before buyers wire funds to an individual or company, urge them to call to verify the wire instructions independently with the title company or closing agent.
3. Be very watchful of any changes. Inform your clients that wire instructions rarely change. If they receive an email saying that any wiring instructions have changed, urge them to confirm the validity with the real estate agent or title company.
The best defense against this type of scam is having multiple checkpoints with your title company and agent to ensure everything you are being instructed to do is legit—and phone is best. Just make sure you’re talking to the right person.
**RED ALERT** WIRE FRAUD IS AN EPIDEMIC
The Cascade Team will be holding a WA State Certified 3 Clock Hour class on Wire Fraud and everything you need to know and how to best protect your clients on February 6th from 10:00 until 1:00. Registration details coming soon.
The Cascade Team Real Estate is a company like no other because of the marketing, service and home seller savings we provide. We understand that in today’s real estate & home selling environment, we need to provide a high level of real estate service and wide spread marketing of the home for sale, utilize technology to keep our home seller clients in the communication loop and provide added value to both buyers and home sellers in the real estate transaction. The effective use of technology tools allows our local Seattle & San Diego real estate agents to focus more of their time on servicing our clients and finding buyers for your home, all the while providing the most comprehensive real estate marketing program available. In the end, you get the perfect combination of online real estate tools and personal service in the home selling process.