How homebuyers can avoid being scammed
By Alyssa Pry and Jeanie Ahn, Yahoo Finance – September, 2018
Homebuyers beware: It takes the average single person 11 years to save for a down payment on a home, and in an instant it can be taken from you by hackers during your closing.
According to FBI data, there is a rise in real estate wire fraud as hackers target real estate brokers, title companies, and attorneys through phishing email scams that allow malware to monitor email and spot potential transactions.
When the prospective homebuyer is ready to close on their home and send money for a down payment, hackers send an email that mimics a bank or institution, and request the money to be wired through the click-through link. At that point, criminals attempt to direct the funds into multiple offshore accounts, where the money is difficult to trace.
In 2017, $969 million was “diverted or attempted to be diverted from real estate purchase transactions to criminally controlled accounts,” according to the FBI. And in 2016, the number of wire fraud cases jumped 480% from the previous year.