Homebuyers need to beware of hackers and real estate wire transfers. In this frightening scenario, hackers illegally get the email accounts of real estate agents and brokers, which is not so surprising considering places like Target, Sony, and the Defense Department get hacked, even though they have a very high level of security. Although the problem has been going on around the country for a while now. Chicago Title recently put out an alert that described the steps involved. I’ll summarize the situation here so you can be sure to avoid getting ripped off:
Homebuyers are internally contacted after hackers find them via the email accounts of real estate agents and brokers. The hackers will then email the homebuyer directly, usually referencing a pending real estate deal, outlining specific details including (a) the parties/ names, (b) the title company involved, (c) the escrow officer in charge of the deal, and (d) other information specific to the transaction. These emails look legit like they are coming from the real estate agent, mortgage broker, or escrow agent. BUT THEY ARE NOT!!!
Check the bank account. One of the telltale signs that an email is fraudulent is that it tells the buyer to wire funds directly to a different bank account than provided in the preliminary report or in the escrow instructions. Experts say that when the money is wired to the bogus account controlled by the hacker, it is immediately withdrawn.
The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® put out this warning:
“Buyers and sellers should confirm all email wiring instructions directly with the escrow officer by calling the escrow officer on the telephone. In that conversation, the correct account number information should be repeated verbally before taking any steps to have the funds transferred.”
The bottom line: before wiring any money, buyers need to confirm the transfer by phone with the escrow officer and the buyer’s real estate agent.
Find out more about hackers and real estate wire transfers in the current issue of RealtyTimes. Check out my website information on amazing properties currently on the market in Montecito and the surrounding communities. Then give me a call at 805.886.9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com.