Devastatingly effective wire fraud scams are becoming more and more common in real estate transactions. Sophisticated hackers are monitoring client and/or broker email accounts and waiting for a window to steal monies from your clients. The scammers convincingly impersonate the broker or escrow agent, and then send messages urging the clients to wire funds to fake accounts set up by the scammers. The clients are left with no recourse to recover the stolen funds.
Beware of the following scam:
- An email account is hacked (this could be broker’s, escrow’s, or consumer’s email).
- Hacker monitors the account, waiting for the time when consumer must wire funds. Broker, escrow, and consumer have no knowledge they are being monitored.
- Hacker, impersonating broker or escrow, instructs consumer to wire funds immediately. The wire instructions are for an account controlled by hacker. These instructions often create a sense of urgency and often explain that the broker or escrow officer cannot be reached by phone so any follow-up must be by email. When consumer replies to this email, consumer’s email is diverted to hacker.
- Consumer wires the funds which are stolen by hacker with no recourse for consumer.
Thanks to the Washington Association of Realtors for the above content.