Wire Fraud - Protect Yourself

The financial well-being of our clients is a top priority.  We want to make you aware that instances of cyber-attacks involving wire transactions are increasing at an alarming rate. Industry-wide, homebuyers are being targeted to wire their down payment funds to fraudulent accounts. Too often, these funds become irretrievable. 

The KATHYE WARFIELD TEAM will NEVER send you an email asking you to follow "this link" or send us your bank information.  If you receive an email from us or the title company asking for this information, call us immediately!

Here are some tips to protect you against wire fraud:

1. Protect email accounts: Perpetrators of wire fraud often carry out their crimes after having hacked an email account. Use a strong password, change it periodically and use two factor authentication on any accounts used in connection with real estate closings. 

2. Call, don’t email: You should confirm all wiring instructions verbally before transferring funds and should independently verify the phone number of the settlement agent or closing attorney (e.g. website, purchase contract, business card, etc.).

3. Be suspicious: It’s not common for wiring instructions and payment info to change. It’s also not common for the lender to provide wire instructions. 

4. Confirm it all: You should ask your bank to confirm not only the account number but also the ABA routing number and the name on the account before sending a wire.

5. When Funds are Transferred: If you are the buyer, you CAN transfer funds to the title company.  You should call the title company directly for instructions.  If you are a seller, the title company will ask you to bring a voided check TO CLOSING in order to wire funds directly to your account. 

6. Forward, don’t reply: When responding to an email, click on forward instead of reply and then start typing in the person’s email address. Criminals use email addresses that are very similar to the real one for a company. By typing the email addresses, it’s easier to identify if you’re a target of fraud.

7. Use a cashier’s check instead: Consider not wiring funds at all. You can use a cashier’s check instead of sending funds by wire.
If you receive questionable or suspicious wire or funds transfer instructions, notify us or the title company before transmitting any funds. If you believe you've wired funds to a fraudulent account, contact your bank immediately and then report the incident to local law enforcement and the FBI.

The sources below are additional sources of information:
Federal Bureau of Investigation: www.fbi.gov
The FBI’s IC3 at www.ic3.gov; or 310-477-6565
National White Collar Crime Center: www.nw3c.org
OnGuardOnline: www.onguardonline.gov