Wire fraud is a very common problem these days. NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson provided a summary of the problem recently on realtor.org. She said, “Hackers are gaining access to e-mail accounts through captured passwords, and they’ll search inboxes for messages related to real estate transactions. Once they find a victim who’s in the process of buying a home, they’ll send a spoof e-mail that looks like it’s from their agent, title representative, or attorney, and it will say there are “new” wiring instructions, which includes a fraudulent account. The home buyer will then unwittingly wire funds directly into the hacker’s account. Once they send it, the money is gone. Millions of dollars are lost on this.”
Because of these wire fraud cases, I prepared an infographic on Preventing Wire Fraud to inform readers about the risks and how you can prevent it.
Real estate professionals must continue to remind clients or home buyers about the risk, especially during later phases of the transaction, by putting notices in their email signature.
Here is an example notice from Realtor.org:
Never trust wiring instructions sent via email.
Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts and sending emails with fake wiring instructions. These emails are convincing and sophisticated.
Always independently confirm wiring instructions in person or via a
telephone call to a trusted and verified phone number. Never wire money without double-checking that the wiring instructions are correct.
Internal communications in real estate firms or companies is very crucial to improving awareness and decreasing risk. Education regarding risks and related procedures should be engaged in at least monthly.