New data released by the FBI states that in fiscal year 2017 nearly $1 billion ($969 million) was rerouted
or attempted to be rerouted from real estate purchase transactions. This figure is up from fiscal year
2016 in which the FBI counted $19 million in wire transfer frauds affecting homebuyers.
Home buyers are the most vulnerable due to the home-purchase money being wired to complete
The scam is simple yet devastatingly effective:
Hackers find an opening into title company or realty agent’s email account. They then track
upcoming home purchases scheduling to close escrow.
They assume the identity of the title agency person handling the transaction posing as title or escrow officer.
The email of the title or escrow officer is hijacked and instructs the homebuyer to wire the funds
needed to close to the hacker’s own bank account instead of the legitimate account.
The hackers then withdraw the money and disappear.
In my last transaction, title company sent me wire transfer instruction through secured document warning about fraud.
My agent recommended chashiers check. I ended up using cashiers check. The scale of damage is quite scary…
We were handed the wire instructions in person when I dropped off our check for our earnest money. Their thing is simply that they ask that you call the company and make sure the instructions you got were correct. Handing them to me in person was a sure thing.
I don’t think I could drive safely if I had a cashier’s check for the amount of money we needed to close in my car…