Buying a house can be scary. Sadly, there are scammers out there looking to take advantage of both buyers and sellers when money is exchanged for real property. The following article is an excerpt from Realtor Mag. Watch the video for more info. To read the full article click here.

 

MAY 2016 | BY ERICA CHRISTOFFERGRAHAM WOOD

piggy bank being stolen

When NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson asked a group of real estate professionals whether they or someone they knew had clients that were victims of wire fraud, more than one-third of the audience at the Idea Exchange Council for Brokers raised their hands.

Johnson laid out the top legal friction points currently facing practitioners during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. last week. Wire fraud topped the list as a sophisticated scam causing consumers to lose millions of dollars each year.

Hackers are gaining access to e-mail accounts through captured passwords, and they’ll search inboxes for messages related to real estate transactions, Johnson said. Once they find a victim who’s in the process of buying a home, they’ll send a spoof e-mail that looks like it’s from their agent, title representative, or attorney, and it will say there are “new” wiring instructions, which includes a fraudulent account. The home buyer will then unwittingly wire funds directly into the hacker’s account, Johnson said.

“Once they send it, the money is gone,” she added. “Millions of dollars are lost on this.”

Jessica Edgerton, NAR associate counsel, presented suggestions during the Professional Standards Forum & Committee Meeting to help clients avoid falling victim to wire fraud. “The more we raise awareness of these scams, the more red flags consumers will recognize,” Edgerton says.