Recently, there has been a growing number of scams affecting real estate transactions online. In fact, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports that there were close to 10,000 victims of real estate fraud in 2017. The IC3 was created by the FBI to address cyber crimes like these, which have been gaining popularity. Despite the rise of these scams, there are a few easy steps consumers and real estate professionals can take to protect themselves.
What Does the Scammer Do?
Usually, the scammer will hack into the buyer’s email in order to monitor their email thread with their real estate agent. Then, they will wait for the perfect opportunity to fake out the buyer. To illustrate, once the real estate transaction is close to completion, he or she will disguise themselves as the real estate agent and send an email to the buyer. This email will commonly request the buyer to wire the money for the purchase to a different account.
In addition, scammers have also been able to hack into the real estate agent’s email. This is why it is important for them to keep their emails as secure as possible.
Once the scammer has received your money, they will wire it to a variety of accomplices in an effort to make it difficult for the FBI to track.
More Than Just Money On the Line
While these hacks can cause one to lose a substantial amount of money, your privacy is also at risk. If any personal information is exchanged through email, such as scans of your license or social security card, it could get in the hands of the scammer. This is why it is not recommended to conduct real estate transactions over email.
Better Safe Than Sorry
You should be taking every possible precaution in this situation. A simple and smart way to ensure you are shielded from these scammers is to review every number throughout the home buying process. You can do things like verify the wire transfer information before completing the transaction, and then reaching out to confirm its receipt after.
Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask everyone involved in the transaction about how they will maintain the security of your information. If you are conducting business over the phone, verify that the person speaking is who they say they are. According to IC3, scammers have managed to target people over the phone as well.
Don’t Let It Be Too Late
If you have even the slightest worry that you have been the target of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible. They might still be able to get your money back. After this, you should report this incident to the FBI.
Most commonly, these scams occur on Friday afternoons. This is because consumers won’t usually notice anything until the weekend has passed, giving the scammer extra time to keep your money for good. It is imperative that you don’t let it be too late and take action immediately.
Trust Champion Title & Settlements with Your Title Services
Champion Title is a full-service title insurance agency providing title insurance and closing support to streamline closings and increase compliance for our diverse clientele including home buyers. We fully embrace technology and are proud to offer clients myriad tools and services to efficiently and accurately assist them with all of their closing needs. For more information, contact us today!