SE Portland, OR. Homes August 7, 2015

The Latest in Real Estate Fraud

For most people, buying a home is the largest purchase they'll make in their lifetimes. Consequently, there is a substantial amount of money flowing around during a real estate transactions, with earnest money deposits, payment for inspections, and the transferring of funds at closing. Currently, we have a lot of mechanisms and vehicles to protect the finances on all sides of the transaction: escrow provides a neutral third party to hold funds, different contingencies protect monies while buyers and sellers make decisions, and banks provide secure wiring for the funding of loans.

Unfortunately, despite the sophistication of the real estate industry, some intrepid wire fraudsters have nevertheless latched on to real estate transactions as a target for scamming buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the system is this: a hacker will slice into a real estate agent's email account and monitor the details of a particular transaction. Then, as closing approaches, the perpetrator of the fraud will send an official-looking email to the buyer in the transaction with fradulent wiring instructions, thus obtaining the funds themselves. It's also noted that the emails themselves are fairly convincing, with either legitimate-seeming sham accounts or hacked emails from legitimate accounts themselves. The language also displays less of the robotic syntax quirks that are obvious red flags in the more typical email scams.

Regardless of the refinement of this scam, however, buyers and real estate agents can take precautions. For instance, be aware of any reference to a "SWIFT wire" in the email. Staying in contact with escrow officers, lenders, and your real estate agent is also a great way to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and there is no space for a scammer to insert themselves into the transaction. I'm a firm believer in daily follow-ups and I think that's a great precautionary measure against fraud, in addition to just being good business. The full list of measures can be found in the link to the article below. Please feel free to contact me with any questions as well!

Link to Article: CLICK HERE