This is really aimed at cash buyers, or those making down payments by wire. The newest scam to be aware of involves fake wiring instructions being received by email to unsuspecting purchasers. Imagine that you have saved all your life for the purchase of a home only to have your hopes dashed and crushed because you sent your money to a scam artist. Not only are you out the money, you could lose the purchase of your home.
Typically, the way this is working is that just before closing you will receive an email that is professional looking, may even be on your real estate agent’s letterhead or email, or the title company’s letterhead and email, purporting to be either your agent or the escrow agent. Contained within the email is a set of new wiring instructions or possibly just the wiring instructions. The thieves are smart and can find out that your transaction exists from numerous public and private sources. They essentially send a similar email to hundreds of people looking for the one to bite.
As a result, the unsuspecting purchaser, believing the email to be real and valid, then changes or gives that wiring instruction to the bank and the money is transferred to the thieves, rather than the escrow company or seller. These emails will typically look completely valid and real.
What can you do to protect yourself? Validate any such email with your agent and escrow company, over the telephone, verifying the specific wiring instructions and account numbers. The thieves are getting smarter, and so should you!