Despite the warnings, improved training regimens for real estate professionals, and growing awareness among buyers and sellers, wire fraud scams involving real estate transactions continue to be a major problem.
According to the FBI, Americans lost nearly $150 million to real estate scams just last year, a 166% increase from the year before. Scams in the industry have jumped more than 1,000% since 2015.
Lurking behind many of these scams are efforts to capture then replicate emails moving back and forth from business email accounts, known as Business Email Compromise (BEC), and these scams are aimed at both consumers and industry professionals.
Hackers spend time researching an organization and its employees before launching an attack. They impersonate an executive or other employee in an email, requesting a wire transfer. Once the money has been transferred to a fraudulent account, it’s usually impossible to get it back.
The key to preventing these frauds lies in vigilance and then verification. To achieve the right level of vigilance businesses such as ours need to implement transaction standards, train employees in those standards and adhere to the standards without fail. One of the most important of those standards is verifying wiring instructions and payoff letter information because someone working on the transaction may have a compromised email account.
This article continues in the new issue of ASSURANCE along with security tips to protect your customers and businesses.