WIRE FRAUD IS REAL
YOU CAN LOSE YOUR ENTIRE DEPOSIT/DOWNPAYMENT
If you wire funds to the wrong place, specifically a criminal enterprise, you may lose your entire deposit or downpayment. It is not insured, nor is it recoverable.
The ability to communicate and conduct business electronically is a convenience and reality in nearly all parts of our lives. At the same time, it has provided hackers and scammers new opportunities for their criminal activity. Many businesses have been victimized and the real estate business is no exception.
While wiring or electronically transferring funds is a welcome convenience, we all need to exercise extreme caution. Emails attempting to induce fraudulent wire transfers have been received and have appeared to be legitimate. Reports indicate that some hackers have been able to intercept emailed transfer instructions, obtain account information and, by altering some of the data, redirect the funds to a different account. It also appears that some hackers were able to provide false phone numbers for verifying the wiring or funds transfer instructions. In those cases, the victim called the number provided to confirm the instructions, and then unwittingly authorized a transfer to somewhere or someone other than the intended recipient.
What generally happens is that the moment the funds are received by the fraudsters, the account is closed and funds irretrievable.
ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED:
- Obtain phone numbers and account numbers only from Escrow Officers, Property Managers, or Landlords at the beginning of the transaction.
- DO NOT EVER WIRE OR ELECTRONICALLY TRANSFER FUNDS PRIOR TO CALLING TO CONFIRM THE TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS. ONLY USE A PHONE NUMBER YOU WERE PROVIDED PREVIOUSLY THAT YOU KNOW IS LEGITIMATE. Do not use any different phone number or account number included in any emailed transfer instructions.
- Orally confirm the transfer instruction is legitimate and confirm the bank routing number, account numbers and other codes before taking steps to transfer the funds.
- Avoid sending personal information in emails or texts. Provide such information in person or over the telephone directly to the Escrow Officer, Property Manager, or Landlord.
- Take steps to secure the system you are using with your email account. These steps include creating strong passwords, using secure WiFi, and not using free services.