According to the FBI, Americans lost nearly $150 million to real estate scams in 2018. (Forbes). 

Here are four of the most common real estate scams:

  • Loan Flipping
  • Foreclosure Relief
  • Rental Scams
  • Escrow Wire Fraud

 

In this article, we’ll focus on Escrow Wire Fraud.

First, what is Escrow Wire Fraud?

Escrow wire fraud is any event where an individual is tricked into sending money via wire transfer to a fraudster. Wire fraud includes imposter scams, debt collection schemes, and identity theft. Real estate transactions are also a target for wire transfer fraud.

 

How does an escrow wire fraud scam work?

Commonly, scammers will hack into a title company’s network to retrieve emails and information about an upcoming home purchase.

 

Once they have that, usually they will set up a fake website under a name similar to the home buyer or seller you’re working with. From there, the scammers will email you instructions to wire the money needed to close on the house.

  

How does Wire Fraud Affect the Title Industry? – 

Thousands of homebuyers are falling victim to wire fraud every year. This is a result of the title industry getting more and more digitized. It is a growing problem and the number of people becoming victims is getting larger.

To protect yourself, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers these tips to help keep you safe:

  • At the beginning of your transaction obtain the name, email and phone numbers for your real estate agent, lender, title insurer and closing and settlement agent, Be sure to only use these numbers and email addresses when communicating with the individuals during the transaction.
  • Make sure you use two-factor authentication on your own email account and encourage other individuals included in the transaction to do so as well.
  • Wire instructions will come from your title/closing agent before your transaction is set to close. As a buyer, be sure to verify the wire instructions with the title/closing agent by calling them directly or discussing it in person. Email accounts can be compromised so be sure to verify the information you receive through direct communication.
  • Be aware of any email or correspondence that asks you to respond IMMEDIATELY or RUSH. Title companies will not ask for a wire transfer in this manner. Be VERY suspicious of any communication saying that wire transfer details have been updated.
  • Always confirm receipt of the wire transfer a few hours after the wire was transmitted to ensure it successfully went through to the right parties.
  • To determine if your title insurer is licensed and in good standing, check with your state insurance department.

SnapClose is working diligently to help protect our customers from these scams. Aside from this article, we will continue to provide you with additional resources for how you can spot fraud before it occurs. For more information, please contact support@snapclose.com