The real estate world has always been a place where criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to make an easy buck.
Recently, wire fraud has been an ongoing scam in the real estate world.
In order for wire fraud to work, a criminal gains access to someone’s email. It can be a realtor, buyer, seller, or title company employee. They monitor emails throughout the process, in order to find an opportunity where they can switch out wiring instructions.
Instead of a title company’s wiring instructions or a seller’s wiring instructions, the criminal replaces their own information so that the wire goes to the wrong place. When it comes time those funds to be wired, they go to the wrong place.
Unfortunately, what makes this scam so believable is that the criminal is able to make the email appear authentic. It will actually look like it’s coming from a party involved in that transaction.
One of the best ways to avoid becoming a victim of wire fraud is to be able to identify suspicious emails. In this post, we’ll provide with some guidelines to help you identify suspicious emails.
Bad grammar, misspellings, or something that looks like a person didn’t write it are all things that should raise red flags. If you’ve previously been conversing with someone in the transaction who generally has good grammar, then you start receiving emails that look like they’ve been poorly translated or just don’t make any sense, that should probably raise some questions.
If you receive anything that looks questionable, consider picking up the phone to call to confirm that the person was, in fact, the person who sent you that email.
Most legitimate emails are sent in HTML format. This means that there’s usually a mix of images and text. Any emails that are just text should raise a red flag, especially if all of a sudden there’s a change to a sender’s email format.
For example, if you’ve been corresponding with a Realtor with a signature that includes a headshot, then all of a sudden emails start coming through in plain format, this should raise a red flag. It’s unlikely that a Realtor has changed their email format mid-transaction. It’s definitely worth a phone call to confirm that the email did come from the Realtor.
One way hackers often lure victims in is with an urgent request for information. They’ll email you needing personal information like your social security number, account information or an account password. They’ll indicate that they need the information as soon as possible in order to avoid delaying a transaction.
If you get any requests like this or sudden changes to what’s been discussed (like wiring instructions) be sure to pick up the phone to call and verify.
Before opening any attachments, be sure you check who the sender is. Oftentimes, this is where shady senders can lure in their victims. The email can appear legitimate, but it comes with an attachment that can compromise your computer. Even be sure to double check the sender’s email address, they’ll often fill in the name of someone you’ve been corresponding with but send it from another email.
Finally, sketchy links are often a sign of suspicious emails. Oftentimes, suspicious emails include only a link or a very minimal email with a link for you to click. Before blindly clicking on a link, be sure to hover over it to see if it is leading to the place that the email indicates.
If you’re unsure of the link, there’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone to verify with the sender that the link is legitimate. If you’ve previously been corresponding with someone who sends attachments instead of links, it should probably raise a red flag if you get a vague email with a link.
Are you looking for a Knoxville title company? Look no further than Title Group of Tennessee! We are dedicated to providing timely, efficient, and accurate closing services to our clients. Please do not hesitate to contact us about the services that we offer or with any questions you may have regarding the closing process. Give us a call at 865-392-5801, or send an email to [email protected].
We welcome the opportunity to work with you and are happy to assist you in any way that we can.