One Mistake Could Cost You Your Down Payment
MarketWatch contributor Kari Paul recently profiled an unsuspecting Seattle home buyer, who lost his $123,000 to an unfortunate wire fraud scam. Aaron from Portland received email instructions to wire the down payment funds to someone impersonating a representative from his title insurance company. He completed the request, and the money was wired to a scammer’s bank account instead of the title company. Today, the defrauded home buyer is a spokesman for the title company, sharing his story with others as a warning.
One simple mistake could cost you your entire down payment savings, and the home you love. Here’s how to protect yourself against real estate fraud:
- Verify wire instruction over the phone. Never respond directly to an email request to wire large sums of money. Call someone from your real estate team and verify instructions ahead of time.
- Beware any changes to wiring instructions. It’s highly unlikely that wiring instructions will change, especially toward the end of the mortgage transaction. If you receive an email about a change to wiring instructions, call your loan officer to verify.
- Get the title company or attorney’s information ahead of time, not at the time of closing.
- If you suspect fraud, let your loan officer know. We are here to help! Our organization has an entire department dedicated to fraud prevention. If you believe you have been involved in foul play, let me know immediately.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issued its first warning about wire fraud in 2015 and continues to share strategies with real estate professionals for preventing wire fraud. Jennifer Edgerton, associate counsel with NAR, told MarketWatch, “Until the technology is able to be perfected and secured, everyone needs to stay aware of the problem and educate each other. We are dealing with international crime syndicates who are highly organized and highly professional — if we aren’t careful, they are going to keep the upper hand.”
If you have any questions about preventing wire fraud, please let me know.