According to the latest FBI report, criminals are becoming more secretive and agile at committing wire fraud schemes. With the amount of wire fraud incidents growing each year, being aware of how these incidents happen is the first step in preventing them. The steps and information outlined below can help prevent you from becoming a victim of wire fraud.
How Are Criminals Getting Smarter?
Criminals are getting better at disguising themselves as legitimate entities within the wire transfer process. According to the FBI, criminals are now employing linguists, attorneys, real estate professionals, programmers, IT specialists, social media experts and anyone else needed to ensure their fraud scheme succeeds. Because of this we now see increasingly more sophisticated fraud attempts which include:
- Fraudulent emails with proper grammar and email signatures that mimic the non-fraudulent entities.
- Fraudulent emails with multiple people posing as the title company, lender, and realtor.
- Non-email methods including phone, text, and chatbots which reference the fake emails.
How Do You Prevent Wire Fraud?
By educating realtors, lenders, homebuyers, and home sellers about the risks associated with wire fraud, the frequency of incidents can be greatly reduced. By ensuring that all of the entities you are working with are fully licensed and have good standing is the first step. Below are additional recommendations on identifying and preventing wire fraud from the American Land Title Association.
- From the start of the transaction ensure that you obtain a legitimate contact number and email from the real estate agent, lender, and title company. These are the only phone numbers and emails you should contact during the transaction. DO NOT use any phone number displayed in an email as it may be fraudulent.
- Wire instructions will ONLY come from your title company after being requested by the buyer, they will NEVER come from the lender or real estate agent. The buyer should always verify the wire instructions with the title company by contacting the trusted number.
- Be suspicious of any form of contact that is not from a verified/trusted email or phone number.
- Look for buzzwords such as RUSH or IMMEDIATELY, as title companies will never ask for wire transfers in such a manner.
If you are uncomfortable with transferring funds via a wire transfer you can use a cashier’s check when closing. (Note: this varies per title company)