Real Estate Home Sellers Beware of Scam
FOR HomeBUYERS is providing this especially disturbing article to caution those in a real estate transaction about this apparently new form of theft by hackers. We want sellers to be aware of this scam so that they might take all precautions to protect themselves.
Hackers make off with $200,000 in real estate sale funds in savvy scam
Staff Writer – Triangle Business Journal
Both the North Carolina State Bar and the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office have sent out warnings across the state about a group of hackers involved in a scam to steal money from seller accounts involved in real estate closings.
In one such case, the scammers made off with $200,000, according to the AG’s office.
Here’s how it went down, according to a fraud alert sent to all N.C. State Bar members earlier this week:
- The law firm on a Friday received both an email and a phone call from a lady claiming to be one of the firm’s out-of-state sellers. She requested the firm wire her funds to her bank account.
- Having fulfilled the law firm’s two-level confirmation process requiring both an email and a phone call response, the funds were wired to the bank account.
- The firm learned Monday, however, that the seller’s email had been hacked and “bad actors” had pretended to be the seller on the phone call.
- It was only after the funds had been wired that the lawyer noticed that that the email address of the hacker was different from the actual seller’s email address by one letter.
“We attempted to retract the wire and we learned yesterday that the bank did not retract the wire and will not communicate further without a subpoena,” the letter stated.
The State Bar and the AG’s office are recommending that attorneys and others who handle real estate transactions initiate the phone call to confirm the emailed wiring instructions and using only the number in the client file.
Report possible scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.
Amanda Hoyle covers commercial and residential real estate. Follow her on Twitter