Did you know that on average a bank robber gets away with just over $3,800 worth of illegal loot while an online fraudster who commits the crime of a successful wire-fraud will steal over $129,000? It is no surprise then that this horrendous criminal act called Wire-Fraud is on the rise.
Realtors®, real estate brokers, closing attorneys, buyers and sellers are targets for wire fraud and many have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because they simply relied on the wire instructions received via email.
A fraudster will hack into a participant’s email account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. After monitoring the account to determine the likely timing of a closing, the fraudster will send an email to the buyer purporting to be the escrow agent or another party to the transaction. The fraudulent email will contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and will request that the buyer send funds to a fraudulent account.
We are urging everyone to INQUIRE BEFORE YOU WIRE and to never rely solely on email communication. Always follow these two simple steps:
1) Obtain the phone number of your Real Estate Broker, Realtor®, Closing escrow folder. If you are reading this at one of our lobbies and you don’t have a copy of this flyer, simply ask the receptionist for a copy.
2) Prior to wiring, call the phone number you wrote down from step #1 above you receive a change in wiring instructions supposedly from us or your Escrow Officer, be suspicious as we rarely change our wiring instructions!
Remember: When in doubt, always call our office or your escrow officer.
To learn even more, listen to what past ALTA President Dan Mennenoh has to say on the topic:
Learn more about how you can help your clients stay safe by contacting your Fidelity National Title Sales Executive and download our Wire-Fraud safety flyer by clicking here.