The exciting moment is coming up: your offer was accepted, you’ve completed the inspection process, and now you are ready to close on your dream home! The final step is to sign the paperwork and transfer the payment for the purchase. The closing process can feel complicated if you aren’t familiar with the mortgage and real estate industries, which is why it is essential to have a trusted agent to watch out for your interests with the paperwork and financial details. Then, real estate wire fraud creeps in…
Unfortunately, real estate wire fraud is one thing that all home buyers need to watch out for in our digital world. Much of the real estate communication happens through digital channels, such as text messages, email, and phone.
Scammers have figured out that there is a lot of money on the line when a real estate deal is going down, so they are always looking for ways to get a piece of the action. Real estate wire fraud is becoming increasingly common, which is why both home buyers and sellers need to be on high alert when it is time to transfer the money. In fact, it is estimated that Americans lost as much as $150 million last year due to real estate fraud.
For example, some wire fraud situations have happened because email accounts were hacked, and the scammers sent false information regarding the wire transfer information. Unsuspecting buyers receive the scam message days before closing, and complete the transaction… sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to the wrong account. Once the money is gone, it can be nearly impossible to get it back again!
Before you initiate the transfer of money, it is important to double and triple check the bank account information as well as the source of the transfer instructions. Be on high alert if you receive a communication indicating that the wire transfer needs to happen ahead of schedule to avoid pushing back the closing date.
These scammers are sneaky to make the emails look legitimate. They use the same font and signatures. Often, the emails include copy to the escrow officer, mortgage broker, and real estate agent. But, if the email details are inspected closely, it’s found that all of the addresses are slightly different than the original people involved in the deal.
The only way to protect yourself is to have a direct conversation with the people you are actually working with. If you receive wire transfer instructions, get on the phone, and verify the accounts and transfer details with the industry experts that you know and trust. It never hurts to be cautious; and you could avoid the loss of thousands of dollars with a simple phone call.
Our experienced team at DUFFY Realty is working hard to protect our clients in all stages of the transaction. Call us any time if you have questions about buying or selling a home: (678) 318-1700.