Wire Fraud in Real Estate Transactions

Realty Group of Southwest Florida works with many buyers and sellers in Lee & Collier county - Providing our clients with the best possible service is our top priority.  Ensure a pleasant and safe real estate transaction from contract to closing. Lately Premier Land Title, a company we trust and have worked closely with for many years has cautioned and educated our clients on the new wire fraud schemes! Below Premier Land Title has provided some further detailed information and statistics. 

PREMIER LAND TITLE CAUTIONS BUYERS AND SELLERS ON WIRE FRAUD:

Fraud is not a new topic in the real estate industry. But our familiarity has perhaps dulled our caution when it comes to a massive home buying and selling threat. Wire fraud can perhaps be more accurately called identity fraud. Let’s consider a few facts as a wake -up call to a trend that may be an epidemic:

  • 5.3 Billion -  the amount targeted by perpetrators via business email compromise in 2016 (Source FBI)
  • 480 % - the year over year increase in wire fraud scams reported by Title Companies and Attorneys closing Real Estate transactions in 2016 (IC3)2016)
  • 2,370 % - the increase in identified exposed loses to the most typical of wire fraud scams between January 2015 and December 2016

Now consider one more number. All of these jaw-dropping statistics refer to reported cases. And yet it is believed that only 10 to 15% of fraud attempts are even reported!

A few cases:

  1. Real Estate Closing Attorney in New York forwarded  1.9 million dollars of purchasers funds to a fraudulent account through an email scam.
  2. Cape Coral Title Agent wired sellers proceeds of $67,000 to a fraudulent account caused by an email scam.
  3. Lee County Housing Authority wired $15,000 to a scammer through email fraud.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR FUNDS?

In all cases the fraudsters procure compromised data about identity in order to insert themselves in the communication chain as qualified parties in the transaction. In almost every case, the closing agent, buyer, seller or lender lender unknowingly ends up wiring funds directly to the imposter or his agent.

Don’t be afraid to ask..Purchasers and Sellers should verify with their closing agent or attorney they comply as published by the American Land Title Association Best Practices, the GLB Act and FFIEC Regulatory Act. by asking if they have such certification from an external auditing firm. Secondly, do they have Cyber and Crime/Fidelity Insurance. After all, we are not discussing minor amounts of money.

We at Premier Land Title take your security and private information very seriously. We maintain both Cyber and Crime/Fidelity Insurance as well as being certified by the outside security firm SC Associates as to our compliance with information security systems and policies as noted above. Visit our website at www.premierlandtitle.net