Daytona Beach, FL - With a rise in fraud targeting wire transfers related to real estate sales, local realtors and the United States Secret Service want to make sure residents know what to do to keep themselves safe.
In these cases, some have reported thousands of dollars going missing in a matter of mere seconds. According to a news report from News 6 ClickOrlando, one Central Florida resident lost the $50,000 down payment they planned to use on a home, while another lost upwards of $160,000, but how?
According to an alert issued by the Secret Service, cybercriminals will impersonate mortgage lenders and send either completely fictitious or altered mortgage payoff statements to title companies. From there, title companies follow the wiring instructions included in the scam emails and wire funds to accounts controlled by the cybercriminals.
Wes Stricklen, a Volusia County realtor for 7 years, spoke to News Daytona Beach and said communication between sellers, banks, and lenders can help prevent most of these problems.
“Communicate directly with the title company to get a secured email for the wiring instructions,” said Stricklen. “When it’s time to send the wire, go to their bank, have their banker call the title company, have the title company read the wiring instructions, and make sure it matches with what was in the email.”
Similarly, double-check the email addresses that message you. Some email addresses may look legitimate, even using a name you may recognize, but the end of the address may be different.
For example, imagine that someone who usually emails you messages you from an @gmail.com or @yahoo.com address. One day, they email you but the end of the email has changed to something else, like @ymail.com, and they’re asking you to click a certain link. This is because a cybercriminal used another service to pose as that person by making a disposable account.
Additionally, as one of the golden rules of the internet states, never click any suspicious links found in emails.
If you or someone believes they are a victim of fraud, contact your local Secret Service field office Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF) to file a report.