Last Modified April 19, 2018
BANK WIRING INSTRUCTION FRAUD
Recently there have been increased reports across the nation of a theft scheme that involves hackers stealing email addresses and sending fraudulent wiring instructions to homebuyers and tenants. Realtors®, lawyers, title agents and buyers could be affected. The criminal scheme has many variations and this notice is not intended to describe each situation. As an actual or prospective buyer or tenant, we want to alert you to the situation so that you can minimize the risk that you could be a victim.
We strongly recommend that before you wire any funds to any party (including your own lawyer, real estate broker or title agent whom you know to be involved in your transaction) that you personally call them to verify the wire instructions (you should confirm the ABA routing number or SWIFT code and the credit account number). You should call them at a number that you have obtained on your own (e.g., the sales contract, their website, etc.) and should not use the phone number that is contained in any email — even if the email appears to be from someone you know. A common aspect of the scheme involves the criminal hacking the sender’s email (unbeknownst to them) and sending you an email that looks like other legitimate emails you have received from that party. The email contains the criminal’s wire instructions and may contain the criminal’s phone number and once your funds are wired by your bank to the criminal’s account there may be no way to recover those funds.
PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION BEFORE WIRING FUNDS TO ANY PARTY. This notice is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.
WIRE FRAUD SCAM ALERT
We recently learned of a wire fraud scam connected with rental properties. These sham transactions have been identified in at least the countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and United Kingdom.
In this scam, the scammer advertises a property to rent on a website with only an email address to contact them. After a potential tenant expresses interest, he/she is contacted by email (in Dutch) for more information. The scammers provide the address of the property and some general information and then asks to communicate further (in English) – and by email only. If the potential tenant reacts positively to this request, pictures are sent along with information about the property and instructions for wiring money (1 or 2 months rent) to consolidate the deal so they can send the keys of the property and the legal documents to a real estate agent to handle the transaction. Once the money is wired, there is no further contact.
Under no circumstances should you wire any money in this situation. You should always verify the legitimacy of any real estate transaction before transferring any funds. Please contact our office to verify the legitimacy of any transaction at (702) 699.9261.
We want to alert consumers to this scam so that you can take measures to ensure the security of your information and to protect yourselves. For more information on wire-fraud scams or to report an incident, please refer to the following links:
Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov/
Internet Crime Complaint Center: http://www.ic3.gov/
National White Collar Crime Center: http://www.nw3c.org/
On Guard Online: http://www.onguardonline.gov/