I sat in on a presentation by an FBI Special Agent who discussed many types of financial fraud which are being used across the internet. Victims are everywhere including real estate buyers and investors, to lonely widows in romance scams who unwittingly launder large sums of money for fraudsters.
But let’s just focus on Real Estate
The reality is, in 2023, your email may have already been “hacked”.
And that “bot” is lurking, just waiting to identify specific jargon relating to a real estate sale.
Terms the sinister bot may be searching for:
- Sales Contract on a house
- Closing or Settlement instructions
- Wire funds
- Cash to close
- Mortgage instructions
- Funds needed for Closing
- Prepaid Items
- Settlement Statement
- Closing Costs
- and the list goes on
The “bot” is waiting to identify common real estate jargon or terms, and, at the precise moment, will send you a spoofed email with new wiring instructions that all look legit. There may be an additional letter in the address, have a sense of urgency like “right away”, have misspellings, or use an old-school word like “kindly…”.
If that last-minute email just happened to you, then pick up the phone using a number you already know to call your agent or title and escrow office. Confirm the instructions with someone you know!
When wiring money, never rely exclusively on an email, text, fax, or social media message communication.
Today, most of my clients already have their accounts set up with permissions that allow them to transfer funds or wire funds. Electronic banking works for me and I’m sure for you too.
You still need to remain vigilant, especially if, when you are sending your money to the Title Company, you get a call from your bank asking you to confirm that “you requested $25,000 to be wired?”
Rather than just saying “yes’ and feeling protected, ask them “to what account is it being sent?”
How to contact the FBI – act quickly!
Contact the FBI within 72 Hours of wire fraud at www.ic3.gov – the FinCEN Rapid Response Team
Very Important information for the Financial Fraud Kill Chain:
- Victim Name
- Victim Location
- Originating Bank Name
- Originating Bank Account Number
- Beneficiary Name
- Beneficiary Bank Account Number
- Beneficiary Bank Location
- Internedi\ediary Bank Name
- SWIFT Number
- Date of Transfer
- Amount of Transfer
- Summary of Incident
Be Careful out there…
The real estate agreements I use here in the Vienna real estate market are created by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. These all contain consumer warnings, and our company also includes a one-page Notice that is signed by buyers and sellers.
You want to wire your money to the right people!