Throughout the U.S., criminals are hacking into email accounts of title companies and real estate agents, creating fraudulent wire instructions and causing clients to mistakenly send deposits or closing funds to the account of the criminal. The emails are convincing and look legitimate, but they are not. There have been multiple recent cases of such wire fraud in Tucson, with one waylaid transfer of approximately $85,000.00.
Caution: immediately before wiring any funds, you should personally speak with the intended recipient of the wire to confirm the routing number and the account number. Criminals have gotten more sophisticated, so be sure the confirmation is via a telephone number you can corroborate. If you have the time, consider using cashier’s checks for delivery of funds instead.
In the event that you learn that you have been scammed, contact the bank immediately to see if they can prevent the wire from being completed. Also, contact the police and fill out a report on the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. Finally, in compliance with data breach notification laws, notify all affected or potentially affected parties.
The Tucson Association of REALTORS® has prepared a disclosure notice for agents to provide to buyers. The best way to prevent such cyber-crime is education.