A week ago, there was another article in the paper about a Central Ohio family losing $216,304 to scammers when they sold their home.
You probably wonder how this can happen with all the new consumer protection, mortgage lending, and real estate licensing laws designed to protect home buyers and sellers?
Let me explain how scammers may try to defraud you during a real estate transaction, and give you 3 tips to stop them dead in their tracks!
How Real Estate Scams Work
In the typical real estate scam the crook instructs home buyers, sellers or title agents to wire funds to a fraudulent bank account.
It starts by the scammer hacking into the email account of someone involved in the real estate transaction. They often target title agents, attorneys, real estate agents or loan officers. Once they get access to their email account, the scammer can track when a transaction closes and when funds will be wired.
The day before the closing the scammer, impersonating a title agent, real estate broker or attorney, sends an email to the buyers instructing them to wire the down payment to a new account. An unsuspecting buyer may wire the money without first verifying the new instructions with the title company. This will ultimately end in the money being lost.
Most of the time there’s no way to get the money back. And, there’s no insurance covering the loss.
3 Ways to Avoid A Scam
Always verify wire instructions independently. Call someone at the official phone number at the title company and confirm that the wire instructions are correct. If they are too busy to pick up the phone, select a different title company.
2. Who’s Sending Wire Instructions?
Don’t accept wire instructions from your real estate agent or attorney. I will never send you an email to tell you where to wire your money. As all funds need to go to the title company. It’s their job to provide you with the correct account numbers.
3. Protect Your Email Account
Protect your email account by not clicking on attachments that may contain viruses. Never click on attachments in unsolicited emails. If your email account is compromised, the hacker could send fraudulent wire instructions to the title company. That’s how a Galena family lost all profits from the sale of their home.
Call/text me at (614) 975-9650, if you have questions on how to avoid wire fraud when buying or selling. I am here to help!