Legal Library

Legally Minded – Wire Fraud

March 16, 2018

Author: Peter Christensen

I’ve been hearing of more and more wire fraud attempts in real estate transactions.

What happens is a hacker gets into one of the involved parties’ email accounts (the real estate agent, buyer, seller, mortgage, or title) and watches until the transaction is about to close, then the hacker sends the buyer an email pretending to be the escrow officer or buyer’s agent and gives the buyer wire instructions. As you can imagine, it is not the correct bank account info, and if the buyer wires any money to the hacker’s bank account, it’s gone.

This is happening all over the country, and Utah is not immune. As a matter of fact, a Utah County couple got taken for $91,000 by a hacker pretending to be the real estate agent right before Christmas last year. In speaking with some of our local lenders and title companies, they say they are seeing these attempts far too often.

Here are a few simple ways to help prevent your buyers from falling victim to this trick.

-Have secure passwords and routinely change them.

-Check your email account for blind forwards.

-Inform your buyers that they should never follow wiring instructions they receive in an email until they verify its legitimacy by contacting their agent or escrow officer on a known phone number or in person.

Following these simple steps can go a long way to help protect your buyers from this sneaky crime.

As always, this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as specific legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Consult your legal counsel before making decisions concerning your situation.


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