WIRE FRAUD WEBINAR: Real Estate Buyers and Sellers Need To Exercise Extreme Caution
By Bobby Freeman, Realtor // December 29, 2017
PRESENTED BY PRESTIGE TITLE OF BREVARD
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tiffany Fortenberry and Tonya Bader of Prestige Title of Brevard inform and educate you in on how e-mail phishing schemes and wire fraud scams is affecting the industry, what is being done to stop it, and how you can take the proper precautions to see to it that it doesn’t happen to you.
“We have personally seen this happen to our own customers and have heard reports of it happening to other customers of our competitors,” said Tiffany Fortenberry, owner of Prestige Title in regard to wire fraud. “It is here, it is real, and it’s not going away, so we must be proactive, vigilant, and aware so that as companies in the industry, partners in real estate, and customers we do not fall victim to it.”
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The ability to communicate and conduct business electronically is a convenience and reality in nearly all parts of our lives. At the same time, it has provided hackers and scammers new opportunities for their criminal activity.
Many businesses have been victimized and the real estate business transaction is no exception. While wiring funds is a welcome convenience, buyers and sellers need to exercise extreme caution.
E-mails attempting to induce fraudulent wire transfers have been received and have appeared to be legitimate.
“We have personally seen this happen to our own customers and have heard reports of it happening to other customers of our competitors,” said Tiffany Fortenberry, owner of Prestige Title.
“It is here, it is real, and it’s not going away, so we must be proactive, vigilant, and aware so that as companies in the industry, partners in real estate, and customers we do not fall victim to it.”
Reports indicate that some hackers have been able to intercept emailed wire transfer instructions, obtain account information and, by altering some of the data, redirect the funds to a different account.
It also appears that some hackers were able to provide false phone numbers for verifying the wiring instructions.
In those cases, the buyers called the number provided to confirm the instructions, and then unwittingly authorized a transfer to somewhere other than escrow.
Sellers have also had their sales proceeds taken through similar schemes.
“We are now having our clients sign this form regarding wire fraud” says Jennifer McCoy, Broker- Associate for RE/MAX Elite’s McCoy-Freeman Group.
Prestige Title will be conducting a seminar series to educate the public on this topic.
“The only way we are going to eliminate or reduce the risk of this happening is to all come together and bring awareness and do our part in stopping these hackers,” said Fortenberry.
To that end, Prestige Title will host educational seminars on September 15 at 11:30 a.m. at 1450 Sarno Road; September 26 at 11:30 a.m. at the Cocoa Beach Chamber Viera Location at the Avenue Viera, located at 2261 Town Center Avenue, #103; and September 27 at 11:30 a.m. at a location to be announced.
For more information, visit PrestigeClosingsBrevard.com, or call 321-242-7660.
BUYERS AND SELLERS ARE ADVISED TO:
• Obtain the phone number of the Escrow Officer at the beginning of the transaction.
• Do not ever wire funds prior to calling your escrow officer to confirm wire instructions. Only use the phone number you were previously provided. Only Use The Phone Number You Were Previously Provided. Do not use any altered phone number included in the emailed wire transfer instructions.
• Orally confirm the wire transfer instructions are legitimate, and confirm the bank routing number, account numbers and other codes before taking steps to transfer the funds.
• Avoid sending personal information in emails or texts. Provide such information in person or over the telephone directly to the Escrow Officer.
• Take steps to secure the system you are using with your email account. These steps include creating strong passwords with numbers and symbols, secure WiFi, and not using free services.
If you believe you have received questionable or suspicious wire instructions, immediately notify your bank, the Escrow Holder and your real estate agent.
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