In this day and age, it can seem like scams in every market are rising faster than wages. The FBI has reported that a growing number of home buyers and sellers are being scammed by a new type of wire fraud through email.
A business email compromise scam (BEC) is one in which hackers target high level employees in a business and trick them into wiring money into a fraudulent account. It used to only affect business, hence the name, but is now being used to scam regular people – namely home buyers – out of the money saved for the down payment on their new home.
In this type of scam, the emails and servers used by title companies, closing agents, and even attorneys who are acting as closing agents are hacked. Then, by spoofing these supposedly trusted email addresses, the scammers send emails to unsuspecting buyers, instructing them to wire a payment. By the time the wire fraud is discovered, the bank has already finalized the transfer of funds, and the victims are unable to recoup their losses. An overwhelming 3500+ people have been affected by this type of scam, accounting for hundreds of millions of lost dollars, time, and a sense of dissatisfaction and grief.
So how do you protect yourself? Realtor Elvin Villalobos with RE/MAX InterAction in Tamarac, FL says, “Always, and I mean always call your Realtor and the title company working for you to confirm they are the ones who sent you the wire transfer request. ALWAYS contact them via phone before making a wire transfer. Typically this is done at the bank, so rather than wasting time emailing back and forth, a mere 5 minute call can save the purchase of your home.”
Other tips for protecting yourself from scams is to avoid using public WIFI and hotspots when you’re handling sensitive information such as real estate transactions.
If you’re looking to buy or sell your South Florida property and want a realtor you can trust. Contact Elvin Villalobos and the team at Interaction Realty. We’re knowledgeable, reliable, and can advise you on the best practices to keep you safe from real estate scammers. Our office is centrally located in Tamarac at 7801 West Commercial Blvd. Give us a call, or just drop by to say hi. We’d love to get to know you and learn how we can serve you and your real estate needs.