By: David H. Rosenberg, Esq.
Technology has made a significant impact in the real estate industry; both good and bad. Unfortunately, as a result of the increase in technology, the real estate industry is being heavily targeted by cyber-criminals.
A criminal will often hack into the email of a realtor and monitor correspondence to a transaction. As the transaction nears closing, the criminal sends what appears to be an email from the buyer’s realtor or settlement agent, including substitute wire instructions on where the buyer should send his monies. The substitute wire instructions are for the criminal’s account rather than the account of the closing agent. Once the funds are wired, the criminal quickly withdraws the funds or moves them off-shore.
1. Realtors, attorneys and settlement agencies should utilize secure email systems.
2. Closing packages & nonpublic personal information should be sent encrypted.
3. Always confirm wire information via telephone, to a verified telephone number and
individual. Never rely on contact information contained within an email signature.
4. Always review and confirm the email address to which you are sending emails.
Criminals often use email domains which look substantially similar to those of the
parties to the transaction.
5. Remember that attorneys and settlement agencies do not change wire
instructions/banking information mid-transaction.
6. Remember to never wire to any account on which the name does not match the
name of the intended recipient (i.e. ABC Title Company will have an account titled
ABC Title Company or something substantially similar)
7. Never click on links in emails which appear to be suspect due to ongoing issues with
malware, ransomware and viruses.
In the event that a wire has been sent as a result of the above, immediately contact the banks in an attempt to stop the wire as well as the local police and Federal Bureau of Investigations.
© 2018 David H. Rosenberg, Esq.
2639 Fruitville Road
Second Floor, Suite 208
Sarasota, Florida 34237