If you've purchased a home recently, then you probably got an email with instructions about how to wire the money you'd need at the closing. This is a common practice.
However, an increasingly popular cyber crime involves sending you a second email with new instructions for wiring the money. Your title company or attorney will not be aware of this second email, but if you follow the instructions, you will probably wire the money right to the bank account of a criminal. By the time you realize that you've been the target of a scam, the perpetrator will have removed the money from the account and you will not be able to get your funds back.
Because of the size of most real estate transactions, the financial impact of this scam is significant. The FBI estimated that in 2017, nearly $1 billion was diverted (or attempted to be diverted) to criminal accounts during home purchase transactions.
Here is how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim:
1) Be very suspicious of last-minute changes in the wiring instructions.
2) Be wary of a wire recipient other than the title company. No third parties should be involved in the transaction or promise to hold the money for the title company.
3) Always confirm wiring instructions verbally or in person, not just by email.
4) Use only the known, verified phone numbers and email addresses that you have used throughout the transaction. No new parties should suddenly join the transaction at the last minute.
If you are new to estate planning and not sure where to start, contact us today for a free consultation.