Don't be a Victim of Wire Fraud!
Wire fraud knows no boundaries, as a local couple discovered after selling their home. After closing, the couple never received the funds from the sale of their property ($450,000+) because of a last-minute wiring instruction switch. The investigation and lawsuit continues, but the title company discovered that the closing agent’s email had been hacked. Buyers and Sellers are losing their life savings due to these hackers.
This has become a real issue across the county as the number of fraudulent wire transfer scams reported has gone up by 480% in the last two years. The FBI has received more than 300,000 complaints in the last year, with over $1.4 billion in losses reported. Southwest Florida local experts say the area is a good fit for such scams because of the wealth and plentiful supply of high-end homes.
Local title companies are very cautious with closings. Double and triple checking accounts, calling clients to confirm wiring instructions, and being more vigilant throughout the entire closing process are a few ways they are battling these fraudulent schemes. If money is sent to the wrong account, there is only a small window of time in which to possibly retrieve it before it's transferred out to some foreign account by the scammer.
How can you protect yourself from falling victim to wire fraud?
1. Never accept a change to an agreed transaction based on an email.
2. If someone tells you there's a new plan, especially one that involves thousands of dollars, be vigilant about checking it out. Call your real estate agent and the title company to make sure the new directions are legitimate.
3. Know that just because an email looks real, comes from a party you are doing business with, does not mean that it is real.
4. If you have any suspicions, trust your instinct. Do not click on links in unfamiliar emails. Email is not a secure way to send any kind of financial information.