It’s a strange, and sometimes kinda sad world we live in these days. Seems like everyone is out to get you, or your stuff, or your identity anyway they can. And now you have to beware of CyberFraud.
You have to be careful in keeping your home and car locked. Watch where you sign on to the Internet and what personal info you do while in the unprotected environment. (I can’t imagine using some city-wide wi-fi and doing some banking transactions…..shreek!)
Well, the fraud gig has found its way to a part of the real estate transaction. The MOST important part of it…and that would be the money part! In Georgia, our closings are coordinated through a closing attorney. They complete all the necessary paperwork, but they represent the LENDER that requires all those documents to be signed. And part of this process, is the wiring of funds for the closing. This is mostly on the Buyer side of the closing, but there can be times when the Seller would have to wire funds as well. Well, now, there seems to be a chance that your funds for closing could end up in the wrong hands!
When you are getting ready for the closing, you will get communication from the closing attorney regarding the wiring of your funds to their account. You will never get that request from myself, or my real estate brokerage. This will always come from the attorney’s office.
That said, we offer up this caution regarding Cyber Fraud:
Beware of Cyber Fraud.
Fake e-mails attempting to get you to wire money to criminal computer hackers are increasingly common in real estate transactions. Under this scam, computer hackers fraudulently assume the online identity of the actual mortgage lender, closing attorney and/or real estate broker with whom you are working in the real estate transaction. Posing as a legitimate company, they then direct you to wire money to them. In many cases, the fake e-mail is sent from what appears to be the authentic web page of the legitimate company responsible for sending the wiring instructions.
You should use great caution in wiring funds based solely on wiring instructions sent to you by e-mail. Independently verifying the wiring instructions with someone from the company sending them is the best way to prevent fraud. In particular, you should treat as highly suspect any follow up e-mails you receive from a mortgage lender, closing attorney and/or real estate broker directing you to wire funds to a revised account number. Never verify wiring instructions by calling a telephone number provided along with a second set of wiring instructions since you may end up receiving a fake verification from the computer hackers trying to steal your money. Independently look up the telephone number of the company who is supposed to be sending you the wiring instructions to make sure you have the right one.
So, as the info suggests, when you get a request to wire funds, search out the firm separate from the info provided in the email. Then call, and confirm the wiring information.
You just have to watch out for the bad guys. They can be anywhere!