Preventing Email and Wire Fraud

Article discusses recent fraud activity targeting real estate agents and their client homebuyers.

Email and Wire Fraud in Georgia Real Estate Closings

Criminals are creative in always coming up with new ways to scam people out of their money. There has been a recent wave of crime involving real estate closings, email and wire instructions. Here is how the scam operates–
  1. Criminal breaks into a real estate agent's email account.
  2. The email account is monitored and upcoming real estate closings are targeted.
  3. Close to the closing date, the fraudster sends an email to the buyer (who is obtained from the agent's email chain) containing fraudulent wire instructions.
  4. Instead of dispatching closing funds to the title company or closing attorney, the buyer has his or her closing funds wired into the criminal's bank account instead of legitimate account of the closing attorney or title company.
  5. The buyer risks a complete loss of the closing funds and a delayed closing.
Knowledge about this scam is the best mechanism for protection, but here are some other tips.
  • Maintain vigilance with email accounts by using a different password for each account. This helps since a password common to all accounts may be easily obtained through inadvertently providing the same password to less secure systems.
  • A real estate agent should avoid providing wire instructions to their clients unless it is to the broker's account. When sending money to a closing, an agent should interface the client directly with the closing attorney or title company.
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