Published on March 28, 2019
Written by Melissa K. Page Boeshans
"Hello, thank you for calling The Title Company, my name is Taylor. How may I help you?"
"Hi, this is Sammy Seller. I'm selling a property at 1500 Melody Lane. Since we're moving, we switched banks and we'll need you to wire the proceeds from the sale into our new account. Could you help me with that?
"Certainly, Sammy! Just give me a moment to pull up your information."
Calls like these happen all the time; people contact their closing company to provide updated information. In this case, proceeds of more than $200,000 were wired into the new account. So what's the problem?
Well, this time the account did not belong to Sammy Seller. Sammy wasn't the one who called. This was fraud.
In a digital world, criminals are constantly seeking new avenues to bypass security protocols. All it takes is a small leak, just a little bit of confidential information, to derail a transaction and redirect funds anywhere.
It happens through email - the "phishing" attacks most of us have been trained to spot over the years. But that's not the only way it occurs. The conversation above is an example of "vishing," which is a form of social engineering where a fraudster uses the telephone to gain personal information for financial gain. The word "vishing" is a combination of "voice" and "phishing."
While the names in this scenario are obviously fictitious, the scenario is all too real. Unfortunate situations like these show why everyone involved in real estate transactions should be on the lookout for anything resembling fraud.
Ideas for buyers and sellers:
Ideas for settlement agents:
The biggest thing is to take the time to verify every call and every change. Confirm and write down who called and the details off all requests. Yes, it can be time consuming, but it's worth it to protect sellers and buyers. After all, you've been entrusted with making sure every detail of settlement is taken care of.
If you have any questions related to wire fraud and how it can impact a real estate transaction, let me know! Reach out to me at email@example.com.