Quick Takeaways

  1. Confirm all wiring instructions in person. Always pick up the phone: it’s really important to always confirm by phone with a known number before transferring any funds.
  2. Don’t ever email your financial information.
  3. If you’re giving your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. You can look for a URL that begins with “https.” Instead of clicking on a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL, and type in the web address yourself, because sometimes they have these false URLs.
  4. Be cautious about opening attachments, and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them, as these files can contain malware and can weaken your computer security.
  5. Keep your operating system browser and security software up to date.

Source: How Title Companies Are Combating Wire Fraud (Housing Wire, Jan. 4, 2023)

Real estate wire fraud continues to be one of the most prevalent cybercrimes in the U.S. About 13,638 people were victims of wire fraud in the real estate and rental sector in 2020 (a 17% increase over 2019) with losses of more than $213 million ), according to FBI data. That ranks real estate and rental wire fraud #7 out of more than 30 types of fraud tracked by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The highest reported fraud in real estate in 2020 was Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC.) Fraudsters will assume the identity of the title, real estate agent or closing attorney and forge the person’s email and other details about the transaction. The scammers will then send an email to the unknowing buyer and provide new wire instructions to the criminal’s bank account.

Based on victim complaint data, BEC/EAC scams targeting the real estate sector continue to rise. From calendar year 2015 to calendar year 2017, there was over an 1100% rise in the number of BEC/EAC victims reporting the real estate transaction angle and an almost 2200% rise in the reported monetary loss Victims participating at all levels of a real estate transaction have reported such activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.[1]

[1] Business E-mail Compromise The 12 Billion Dollar ScamThu (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jul. 12, 2018)

See References for more information.