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Avoiding Real Estate Wire Fraud When Purchasing Your Home

Avoiding Real Estate Wire Fraud When Purchasing Your Home

A scam targeting home buyers is becoming increasingly popular throughout the country. Real estate wire fraud occurs when scammers falsify wire instructions for home buyers who are sending funds for a down payment or closing costs.

Wire fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Scammers visit websites featuring homes for sale, such as Zillow or Realtor.com, and hack into the list realtor or title agent’s e-mail. This enables the scammer to access important information about your home buying process, including the closing date, wire instructions, etc. Once the scammer has all the relevant information, they create a fraudulent e-mail address that has only a slight variation (often only one or two characters) from their valid wire e-mail address.

The best way to combat wire fraud is to keep in consistent contact with your realtor and title company. Once you receive wiring instructions directly from one of these sources do not deviate from those explicit instructions. Scammers will make their instructions urgent, and try to have you send the money as soon as possible. If you receive information that varies at all from the original instructions you were initially given, immediately contact your realtor and title company to ensure it is legitimate.

Wire transfers are incredibly difficult to track, making it an ideal way for scammers to receive illicit funds. In most cases, the financial institution is not held responsible for the stolen money, since the wire transfer was initiated by the customer. Generally, scammers use overseas accounts, leaving little room for United States law enforcement agencies to recover it. It’s unlikely that your money is recoverable.

Stay alert and always be aware when transferring money. Get wire instructions directly from a trusted realtor or title agent, and if you receive notice of different instructions, contact them immediately to confirm the changes. The best way to combat wire fraud is to remain vigilant and aware that real estate wire fraud occurs. Being cautious can save your life savings and your new home.

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