Recently there have been news reports warning buyers and sellers about the newest scam — wire fraud. This newest fraud comes from scammers who target people buying and selling real estate. They create false documentation and emails that look like real legal documents that instruct the “target” of wiring instructions to send their money in order to close on their home. These wiring instructions are false and the funds are sent to whichever account that the scammer has set up. (ABC Chicago Report, “Wired Away”)
I can’t help to think that this newest scam is an inside job. In every industry, you have the mundane daily tasks or standard knowledge of how things work. I can’t help but think that this newest real estate scam was either started by or influenced by someone who works or had worked in the real estate industry at one point in time. The fact that the scammers committing wire fraud know what title company wiring instructions entail, the type of verbiage that is used and the formatting style is suspect to me. The scammers are also creating false attorney letters for real estate closings with altered amounts. Once again, this is not common knowledge so it has to be someone who is familiar with these procedures and documents. (“IL Real Estate Closings- Are Clients Getting Screwed Financially?”)
How can you protect yourself from losing your hard earned money?
Pick up the phone and call. You should always CALL your mortgage lender to discuss and finalize the amount of money that you need to bring to closing. You should CALL the title company to find out how the title company will accept the funds; certified bank check, money order or bank wire. Be prepared to write down the instructions that the title company provides to you. Make sure that you repeat back to the title company representative to verify that you have the correct information and routing numbers. Another way is to have the wiring information faxed to you but beware if you use an e-fax service. I suggest to only use the fax option if you have a traditional fax machine which cannot be hacked.
Remember that if something doesn’t look right or your final numbers are drastically off a few days from closing, CALL your loan officer. The few extra minutes to make a phone call could mean saving your hard earned money.
Written By: Shena Omotola, Dream Home Specialist & Broker Owner of Skyward Realty – Skyward Realty services Chicago, Suburbs, and Northwest Indiana
P.S. Feel free to email me any questions. I’m always here to help. Shena@SkywardRealty.com