If you bought or sold a home recently, it is likely that you heard about the rise in wire fraud. It is now commonplace for Title/Escrow Companies to send out wire fraud notifications to customers and many real estate brokerages are having wire fraud disclosures signed as part of all transactions. Here is a copy of the Arizona Association of Realtors Wire Fraud Advisory
I was recently in a buyer signing appointment at a local title office when the escrow officer told a story about how she was at the closing table with some home buyers signing final docs when she was informed that their wired funds had never arrived. They were paying cash and had wired the entire purchase monies to “what they thought” was the title company. Turns out it was fraud and they lost all their money for the purchase of the home. I can’t even imagine how horrible this was for these buyers, the escrow officer and the agents.
There are a few things you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you:
- Know all parties in your transaction.
- Call your escrow officer at a number you know belongs to them to confirm the instructions are from them. Do not call the phone number in the email.
- Never respond directly to the email. Forward it to the title company and enter the email address you know belongs to them. The fraud email will likely look very similar to the title company’s email.
- Ask your bank to confirm the name on the account before sending a wire.
- Call the title company to verify receipt of funds immediately.
Scammers are more sophisticated than ever. If you have any doubts or think an email looks suspicious, DO NOT TAKE ANY CHANCES! Be sure to contact your local real estate professional and ask them to take a look at anything you think might look fraudulent.