Real Estate Wire Fraud in the U.S. is one of the fastest growing cybercrimes.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center ranks Real Estate and Rental Wire Fraud at #7 out of more than 30 types of fraud tracked. The complaint count has increased over 16% since 2019.
Washington State is listed in the top 10 U.S. states at #7 for cybercrimes reported. With an alarming 17,229 victims in 2020, the losses totaled over $88,000,000.00. This brings Washington State in as the 14th highest state for cybercrime according to the FBI’s 2020 IC3Report for Internet Crime
What is wire fraud and how does is happen?
Wire transfers are a common and convenient way to send money especially for large transactions. It is also a favorite method for criminals to access your funds. Most Commonly, a fraudster will gain access to an email account (most often free web-based email domains) to take on the identity of a party (email spoofing) to the transaction. Posing as the closing agent, real estate broker or lender, they then forge a person’s email (creating a spoof email account that looks very similar) and other details about the transaction. The criminals will then send an email to the unsuspecting buyer and provide new wire instructions to deposit into the offender’s bank account.
Another popular way to attack your transaction is through sending attachments in emails. When the attachment is clicked, malware that is installed can hijack the email providing access to the email system. This allows them to see who is going to be sending the funds and where they will be sent. The fraudster intercedes in the transaction to have the funds wired to another bank account.
Business email compromise (BEC) schemes are when a fraudster compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct an unauthorized transfer of funds.
Rainier Title goes the extra mile for you, We Can Help You Stay Protected!
Here’s How You and Your Clients Can Be Prepared:
Rainier Recommends the following Tips to Protect Against Wire Fraud:
- Call Before You Wire, don’t email-confirm all wiring instructions by phone.
- Be Suspicious-Rainier Title will not ask to change wiring instructions.
- Confirm It All-Ask your bank to confirm account numbers and names. Verify funds received.
- Forward, Don’t Reply- when responding to emails.
The National Association of Real Estate NAR provides a Cybersecurity Checklist: Best Practices for Real Estate Professionals.
Among these are:
- Never click on unknown attachments or links
- Use long, complicated passwords and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts
- Use two-factor authentication
- Keep antivirus software up to date
The American Land and Title Association Recommends:
To have a plan in place if wire fraud should happen. A Rapid Response Plan can save vital time! Download ALTA’s Rapid Response Plan for Wire Fraud Incidents ALTA’s Rapid Response Plan.