Wire Fraud Schemes

Beware of Wire Fraud Schemes When Buying a Home

Criminals begin the wire fraud process long before the attempted theft occurs. Most often, they begin with a technique called “phishing”. It can be in the form of emails, website forms or phone calls to fraudulently obtain private information. Criminals trick users into inputting their information or clicking a link that allows hackers to steal login and password information.

Once hackers gain access to an email account, they monitor emails to find someone in the process of buying a home. Criminals use the stolen information to send fraudulent wire transfer instructions disguised to come from a professional you’re working with, including real estate agents, title companies, attorneys or consumers. If you receive an email with wiring instructions, do not respond. Email is not a secure way to send financial information. If you take the bait, your money could be gone in minutes.

Five tips to protect you against wire fraud:

  1. Call, don’t email: Confirm all wiring instructions by phone before transferring funds. Use the phone number listed on the attorney or title company’s website or business card.
  2. Be suspicious: It is not common for the attorney or title company to change wiring instructions and payment information.
  3. Verify: You should call the attorney, title company or real estate agent to validate that the funds were received. Detecting that you sent the money to the wrong account within 24 hours gives you the best chance of recovering your money.
  4. Forward, don’t reply: When responding to an email, hit forward instead of reply and then start typing in the person’s email address. Criminals use email addresses that are very similar to a company’s real address. By typing in an email address, you will make it easier to discover if a fraudster is after you.