Wire Fraud is everywhere. Electronic communications of all sorts are intercepted and funds stolen. The FBI reports complaints in this area exploded by 480% in 2016. These numbers are not going to decrease. Over $360,000,000.00 was lost to criminals perpetrating these crimes in 2016 alone.
Unfortunately, many electronic mail platforms and many websites visited by Buyers and Sellers are not secure. Property auction sites are notoriously vulnerable.
Methods of operation by fraudsters are sophisticated, some of the more common include:
1. Insert a “Data Miner” or “Phishing” program within a .pdf or other attachment. When opened or downloaded, it can, among other things, track key strokes, or insert a ‘rule’ into a mail program that scans for words such as ‘wire’ or ‘money’. Anti-malware and anti-virus programs can seek most of these out but you need to check your email ‘rules’ and ‘RSS Feeds’ to make sure they have not been manipulated.
2. “Spoofing”is one of the most dangerous because it does not rely on a ‘hack’ or ‘virus’. It relies on you not being vigilant. The plan is simple: Gain the Buyer’s contact information anyway possible – be that by mining a visited site or mimicking the email of a real estate agent, lender, escrow, or title company. Once obtained, contact the Buyer with a request to send funds, gain their NPI (non-public information), or alter the transaction, often accompanied by some threat that the transaction is in danger of failing.
Our telephone number is toll free – USE IT. Before you send documentation, information, or prepare to send funds of any amount CALL US. CALL YOUR AGENT. CALL YOUR LENDER. BE HYPER-VIGILANT.
NO ONE IS IMMUNE FROM THIS THREAT. DO NOT BECOME A VICTIM.