Wire Fraud Creeps Through Real Estate Industry

Filed in Business Management, Technology by on October 6, 2017 0 Comments

Email hackers are becoming increasingly devious. And now, more of them are targeting consumers involved in real estate transactions.

A growing trend among hackers is to rummage through consumers’ email inboxes to identify people in the process of buying a home or land.

When these hackers find a potential target, they send a bogus email that looks like it’s from the home buyer’s real estate agent, title company or attorney saying there are new money-wiring procedures. The home buyers are given falsified instructions and a fraudulent account number to which many of them unwittingly wire funds — which rarely are recovered.

The American Land Title Association recently formed a coalition of industry organizations to discuss best practices and develop methods of educating consumers to better recognize possible scams.

In addition to NAHB, the coalition includes representatives from the Credit Union National Association, the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association, Wells Fargo and others.

Some of the tips shared by these groups, as well as feedback from NAHB members, include:

  • Consumers should use caution when hitting “Reply” to certain emails. Criminals often use email addresses that are very similar to legitimate ones. When drafting a reply email, it’s safest to delete the email address in the “To” field and then re-type the intended address to ensure it goes to the correct person.
  • Title companies and lenders should require all wiring instructions either to be faxed, delivered by courier, or requested in-person. Many businesses have already deemed email and telephone calls as unacceptable methods of conveying wiring instructions.
  • Consumer requests regarding wire transfers should only be done in-person at a financial institution. In the case of requests to wire loan proceeds, the bank should initiate contact with the attorney to obtain wiring instructions.
  • Companies should consider adding a notification below email signatures. For example: IMPORTANT NOTICE: Never trust wiring instructions sent via email. Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts and sending emails with fake wiring instructions. Always independently confirm wiring instructions in-person or via a trusted and verified phone number. Never wire money without double-checking that the wiring instructions are correct.

If you have any questions — or if you have been a victim of wire fraud, a spyware attack or other data security breach and would like to share your experience — contact NAHB’s Becky Froass at 800-368-5242 x8529.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *