Don't Be a Victim of Wire Fraud
Please Exercise Caution Before Wiring Funds to ANY Party
Recently there have been increased reports of a theft scheme that involves hackers stealing email addresses and sending fraudulent bank wiring instructions to various parties involved in a real estate transaction. Realtors, lawyers, title agents, and buyers could be affected. The criminal scheme has many variations and this notice is not intended to describe each situation. As our customer, we want to alert you to the situation so that you can minimize the risk that you could be a victim.
We strongly recommend that before you wire any funds to any party (including your own lawyer, real estate broker or title agent whom you know to be involved in your transaction) that you personally call them to confirm the wire instructions (you should confirm the ABA routing number or SWIFT code and the credit account number). You should call them at a number that you have obtained on your own (e.g., the sales contract, their website, etc.) and should not use the phone number that is contained in any email – even if the email appears to be from someone you know. A common aspect of the scheme involves the criminal hacking the sender’s email (unbeknownst to them) and sending you an email that looks like other legitimate emails you have received from that party. The email contains the criminal’s wire instructions and may contain the criminal’s phone number) and once your funds are wired by your bank to the criminal’s account there may be no way to recover those funds.
We also strongly recommend that you, your lawyers, and others working on a transaction, refrain from placing any sensitive personal and financial information in an email, directly or through an email attachment. When you need to share Social Security numbers, bank accounts, credit card numbers, wiring instructions, or similarly sensitive information, we strongly recommend using more secure means, such as providing the information in person, over the phone, or through secure mail or package services, whenever possible.
If you do think your money was sent to a hacker, your best chance to recover the money is to move quickly. You should immediately, call your bank and ask your bank to contact the bank where the fraudulent wire was sent. You should call your local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office – the FBI can work with other agencies and might be able to help return or freeze the funds. You should also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at bec.ic3.gov.
Home Team Settlement Services takes every precaution possible when wiring funds. These protective measures are in place to guard the consumer and their money.