Hackers are targeting real estate wire transfers to scam people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and its now one of the fastest growing internet scams in the world. This is according to a recent report from WGN in Chicago, but it’s going on all over the place.
This is how it works:
- Hackers break into thousands of email accounts without anyone knowing.
- They watch the activity and spot when someone is about to conduct a real estate transaction.
- Just before close, they send a phony email to the buyer. This email looks like it comes from the title company, saying they’ve just changed banks, and providing “new” wire instructions.
- In the meantime, they’ve set up an offshore checking account. When the money changes hands, they cash it out and vanish.
Please be wary of this scam. It has already cost U.S. homebuyers over half-a-billion dollars in the last year. Here are a few pointers to avoid getting stung:
- We at Frontier Title don’t change banks, so if you get a notice like this, it’s probably not legit. When in doubt, call your title officer for confirmation.
- This isn’t the only scam that email hackers can perpetrate against you. Please keep a secure email password, at least 8 characters long. It should contain letters, numbers, and special characters, and shouldn’t be a real word.
- Wire transactions take about 72 hours to go through, so if you’re concerned that something is going on, contact your bank immediately. The FBI handles fraud cases like this, so get in touch with them as well.