We are currently experiencing a wave of wire fraud schemes, which have been dubbed by the FBI as “BEC, business email compromise”. Unfortunately, real estate transaction have become a target of this scheme. The situation typically involves the hacking of public domain accounts where the hacker creates a very similar looking and sounding email account. They target buyers, sellers, real estate agents, closing agents and mortgage providers. Once they have access to someone’s email account, they monitor the emails of all parties involved in the transaction and at the right moment, convey “urgency” to a client about wiring money. Their goal is to direct clients wiring instructions to their own bank accounts. Once the funds are wired pursuant to the fraudulent instructions, there is little to no chance for those funds to be recovered.
These emails can appear genuine and can even contain logos, branding and photos of the agent, company or lender. In most cases, the emails are written with a sense of urgency that the wire must be sent ASAP or the transaction could be in jeopardy. In most cases these emails contain grammar mistakes, poor sentence structure and the use of different fonts.
Chartwell Escrow has taken extreme precautions to protect buyer’s funds and sellers proceeds. Also, we have now added protection for real estate agent commissions, when they have requested they be wired.
Be VERY CAUTIOUS about any emails that involve wiring instructions. Verify and re-verify prior to sending any funds via wiring instructions. If you feel something seems slightly “off” pick up the phone or speak directly to any of the parties involved in the transaction. Your Chartwell Escrow officer will never be upset that you are being overly cautious about wiring funds.
Attached is a video that was done by the National Association of Realtors regarding this topic. I would encourage you to take a few moments and watch to better understand how this scheme is taking place.
Lastly, please feel free to reach out to any of us at Chartwell with any questions you may have. We are here to be of service to you and everyone involved in your transaction.