Deanne Rymarowicz, Associate Counsel for the National Association of Realtors, explained mortgage wire fraud was a common method scammers use to steal your savings.
Rymarowicz said scammers strike when buyers attempt to electronically wire transfer their down payment to the title company working on their sale. Con artists try to intercept those funds by posing as real estate agents, banks, or the title companies.
She said fraudsters will hack into your email and wait for closing and instructions to be sent, and then they insert their email into the chain and change the instruction so that down payments are wired directly to them instead of the correct account.
Once the funds are sent to the scammers account, the down payment is lost and you could be out of thousands of dollars.
Josh Planos with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said scammers will also impersonate lenders through phishing, phone number spoofing, or SMS messaging.
Most people are unfamiliar with the process of wiring funds, explained Planos, which makes them more vulnerable to fraud. “Confusion is always a scammers best friend,” he said.
Planos shared several ways to protect yourself from this type of scam:
- Familiarize yourself with the wiring instructions to make sure you understand the process
- Be wary of any last-minute changes to wiring instructions
- Contact your bank and make sure the name on the receiving account is the title company you are using
- Verify information with a phone number that you have independently checked
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