Here’s an example of attempted real estate wire fraud from a Forbes, May 2019 article, Real Estate Wire Fraud is Real – And it Almost Happened to Me
It all started with an email.
I got a message from my escrow officer – or at least someone pretending to be her. Our closing costs needed to be wired to the title company right away, she said, or our closing date would be pushed back.
Considering the six weeks I’d spent waiting to close on the property – the message sent my heart racing.
A closer look at the header revealed the problem. Each email address – one for my agent, one for my mortgage broker and one for my escrow officer – was a single character off.
It was a fake.
Do you remember when scam emails involved a little bit more fun? According to an April 2019 article from CNBC, “Nigerian Prince” email scams still rake in $700,000 a year. Scammers posing as foreign royalty have been at it for more than a decade.
As those millennials with their gadgets like to say: this is why we can’t have nice things!
Here are some low tech ways to protect yourself against real estate fraud:
#1. Make a Phone a Few Phone Calls.
Verify with important parties using verified phone numbers that wiring information is correct. You may want to check with your realtor, title company, escrow officer, or the recipient. You may also want to check with the receiving bank that the account number for the wire is associated with a name you recognize.
#2. Trust But Verify.
After you’ve made some phone calls verify the email address of any messages you send. You can do this manually typing in the email address from a trusted source instead of simply pressing “reply.”
#3. If It Smells Fishy.
Pay attention to common red flags associated with spam emails such as misspellings, poor grammar, an unusual sense of urgency, and emails sent outside of regular business hours.
We hope this article helps protect you and your family from real estate fraudsters. If you need help with setting up an estate plan or liability protection for your real estate, please schedule a meeting with one of the attorneys at the Thrash Carroll Vanway Law Group.
(To the best of our knowledge, none of us are royalty.)
By: Chris Ha