If you are selling property anywhere, be aware that the last “safe” way to transfer money is now at risk. For several years, scammers have counterfeited money, checks and cashier’s checks. Closing agents have been requiring wire transfers to ensure that the money being used in a sales transaction is legitimate. Now, even wire transfers are suspect because thieves are highjacking emails and are changing the account details and resending the emails with fraudulent information. If you are transferring any sum of money for any reason, it is imperative that you contact the Title company or Real Estate Attorney just before and just after the transfer and confirm the account information with them. Do not rely on any email, communicate directly with the source. It would be a good idea to Google/Web Search the phone number or get it from your real estate professional. Unfortunately, I have heard of this happening from several colleagues, their clients have lost many thousands of dollars and in the end, there has been no way to trace the money and they don’t even have a new home to live in because most of their savings were transferred to the fraudulent account. Below is an example of an email from one of the Closing Agents that I work with…
WARNING! WIRE FRAUD ADVISORY
Wire fraud and email hacking/phishing attacks are on the increase! If you have an escrow or closing transaction with us and you receive an email containing Wire Transfer Instructions, DO NOT RESPOND TO THE EMAIL! Instead, call your escrow officer/closer immediately, using previously known contact information and NOT information provided in the email, to verify the information prior to sending funds.
**COMPANY WIRING INSTRUCTIONS ARE ONLY SENT VIA ENCRYPTED EMAIL REQUIRING LOGIN AND PASSWORD OR PASSCODE. UPON RECEIPT OF ANY WIRING INSTRUCTIONS, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE TO VERBALLY CONFIRM THESE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE INITIATING ANY WIRE TRANSFERS.**
DO NOT WIRE without calling the closing agent/title company to confirm the instructions you received are correct. If you are not sure you have reached the right person, call me for the phone number and contact person. We have also been alerted of cloned/hacked emails containing fraudulent wire instructions.