There’s an alarming scam that could affect you or someone you know who is buying or selling a home
Wire Fund Scams
Sophisticated hackers are literally tricking buyers and / or sellers through email schemes to wire their funds to an ‘alternative’ bank account and then these hackers are stealing their money.
There is generally no way to recover those funds once they’re wired, so this could very well be the end of your dream to purchase a home.
How can this happen?
The buyer or seller receives an email that looks like its from either their attorney, Realtor, or Title/Closing company. The email instructs the client to wire the closing funds to an account. The email will probably say something like ‘ we have changed banks, please wire your closing funds to our new account’ and that email will typically be sent close to the closing date, even a day before. It will be have the matching letterhead of the Realtor, Attorney, Closing Company so will look legit…..its NOT!
Thinking the email is legitimate, the home buyer will simply send their funds to the new account.
Alternatively the seller’s attorney / closing company, Title company will get the same kind of email allegedly from the Sellers who say they have changed their mind about the account their funds should go to and instruct the attorney to now send their closing funds to ‘xyz’ account. The Title Company/ Attorney etc will think the sellers have simply changed the account number and wire the funds to the ‘hackers’ account.
How does this happen?
Hackers gain access to email accounts and then search for messages about about ‘wires’/upcoming closings. They then gather information about the buyer or seller- their name (s), closing information, etc. They then create an email that is very similar to the Closing company/ Realtor/ Attorney and then send an email that appears to come from the closing company.
The email usually includes claims of urgency and uses excuses about changes because the company has changed banks or if its from the seller, because the seller changed their mind and wants the funds going into a ‘different’ account.
Once your funds are wired those funds cannot be recovered.
The Federal Trade Commission warns that any email providing instructions to move money for closing should be a cause for concern. They have asked industry professionals to let their clients know that email is not a secure platform for financial and personal information.
If in doubt, call your agent and attorney or closing company and VERIFY. And when you are calling to verify, get the phone number for your Realtor, attorney, closing company from an earlier email, not from the ‘latest’ email which is the hackers.
If you have family or friends who are currently buying or selling a home, please share this with them.