The issue of real estate wire transfer fraud is currently impacting Florida, and buyers and sellers are losing a significant amount of money.
What is Real Estate Wire Transfer Fraud?
Hackers are using fraudulent emails to deceive the parties involved in a real estate transaction, causing them to wire the funds to another location.
The scams typically involve the following events:
- Fraudsters identify real estate professionals (Realtors/Brokers/Title Agents) that have a high volume of incoming wire transfers.
- Hackers gain access and monitor the email account of the real estate professional that is responsible for requesting the funds from the client.
- As the date of the closing approaches for the client, a legitimate funds request and wire transfer instructions are emailed to the client by the real estate professional.
- The fraudsters, who have been monitoring the email exchange between the client and the real estate professional, send a subsequent set of fraudulent wire instructions from an email account that closely resembles that of the real estate professional.
- The client trusts the request is legitimate because it appears to come from the real estate professional he/she has been working with. Client then wires the funds for the purchase of real estate to the fraudster. The funds are quickly withdrawn, and the account is closed.
Suggestions to Avoid this Problem
First and foremost, all of the parties involved (Realtors/Brokers/Title Agents) should make their clients aware of the presence of these scams early on in the transaction. Second, wire instructions should be provided early in the transaction both verbally and through a secure email address. Furthermore, any wire change requests should be confirmed verbally. Finally, real estate professionals should have methods in place which boost the security of their email systems so that they may protect the client’s information. This will enable real estate professionals to combat wire transfer fraud.
If you are working with a real estate professional involving the purchase of real estate, make sure to confirm all wire transfers verbally. Moreover, it is important to pay attention to the emails that you are receiving. Fraudsters will create an email account that is nearly identical to the real estate professionals. If you notice that you receive an email from an account that is slightly different than the real estate professionals, confirm verbally that the email address has changed.
Based, in part, upon recent state and federal court decisions, a victim of wire transfer fraud may have causes of action against multiple parties, including the fraudster, the banks, the realtors, the title company, etc., depending on the circumstances surrounding the transaction and loss of funds. The Boatman Law Firm has experience in handling real estate wire transfer fraud cases. If you have been impacted by a wire transfer fraud and are in need of assistance, either as a plaintiff or a defendant, please contact the Boatman Law Firm at 239-330-1494 for a consultation to discuss your case.
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