Real Estate Wire Fraud

What is Real Estate Wire Fraud?

Real estate wire fraud is a complex scheme that targets individuals making wire transfer payments during the home buying process. Typically, the homebuyer receives an email from attackers pretending to be real estate professionals and title agencies involved in the transaction. The fraudulent email contains wire transfer payment instructions usually regarding the down payment or closing costs. Unwittingly, the homebuyer sends the wire transfer payment to the criminal’s account.

Real estate wire fraud is on the rise. Notably, the FBI reports that since 2015, there has been an 1100% increase in the number of victims reporting and nearly a 2200% increase in money lost.

Homebuyers — Protect Yourselves

Homebuyers, the first step towards protection is acknowledging that you are already a target for real estate wire fraud. It’s also important to realize that professionals in the real estate sector have also been victimized. So, if you or someone you know is buying a home, please research and educate yourselves on real estate wire fraud. This research to protect yourself and your family is even more important than researching which properties you’ll view.

In view of the abundant and severe risks, what should you do if you receive an email instructing you to make a wire transfer payment? Consult these important tips from The Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud:

  • Call don’t email: Confirm your wiring instructions by phone using a known number before transferring funds. Don’t use phone numbers or links from an email. 

  • Be suspicious: It’s uncommon for title companies to change wiring instructions and payment info by email. 

  • Forward, don’t reply: When responding to an email, hit forward instead of reply and then start typing in the previously known email of the requestor. Criminals use email address that are very similar to the real one for a company. By typing in email addresses, you will make it easier to discover if a fraudster is after you.
  • Confirm everything: Ask your bank to confirm the name on the account before sending a wire. 

  • Verify immediately: Call the title company or real estate agent to validate that the funds were received. The sooner it is detected that money has been sent to a wrong account, the better chance you have of recovering the money. 

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For over a quarter of a century, Kevin Barry has provided quality legal representation to clients in the Chicagoland area. Mr. Barry has dedicated his legal practice to all aspects of real estate matters, estate planning, probate estates, guardianshi… Read More

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