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Wire Fraud Danger in Real Estate Transactions

Wire Fraud Danger in Real Estate Transactions – ALERT

from Ron Buck, Keller Williams Realty 949-456-0505

There is a new disclosure form in residential real estate transactions these days. Surprise surprise!

Actually it involves FRAUD in our industry. Cyber criminals are very clever and always looking for new ways to steal. The latest has been stealing money using fraudulent wiring instructions. Whether sending in earnest money or down payment money be extremely careful. Criminals find out about a current transaction then hack emails and substitute their own bank account for the escrow account and POOF, your money is theirs. Scary.

Here are some instructions from Portfolio Escrow.

  1. Obtain the telephone number of the Escrow Officer at the beginning of the transaction.

  2. DO NOT EVER WIRE FUNDS PRIOR TO CALLING YOUR ESCROW OFFICER TO CONFIRM WIRE INSTRUCTIONS. ONLY USE A TELEPHONE NUMBER YOU WERE PROVIDED PREVIOUSLY. Do not use any different phone number included in the emailed wire transfer instructions.

  3. Orally confirm the wire transfer instruction is legitimate and confirm bank routing number, account numbers and other codes before taking steps to transfer the funds.

  4. Avoid sending personal information in emails or texts. Provide such information in person or over the telephone directly to the Escrow Officer.

  5. Take steps to secure the system you are using with your email account. These steps include creating strong passwords, using secure WiFi, and not using free services.

IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE RECEIVED QUESTIONABLE OR SUSPICIOUS WIRE INSTRUCTIONS, IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY YOUR BANK, THE ESCROW HOLDER AND YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT. THE SOURCES BELOW, AS WELL AS OTHERS, CAN ALSO PROVIDE INFORMATION:

Federal Bureau of Investigation
www.fbi.gov
National White Collar
Crime Center
www.nw3c.org
On Guard
Online
www.onguardonline.gov