On Monday, March 21, 2016, REALTOR® Magazine posted an article about a closing scam alert: The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of REALTORS® issued a warning to consumers to be mindful of a growing mortgage closing phishing scam that could leave buyers with no down payment.
In the warning, FTC and NAR say that scammers are hacking into the e-mail accounts of consumers and real estate professionals in order to access information about the closing date. The hackers will then send an e-mail to the buyer and pose as the real estate professional or title company. In the e-mail, hackers will say there’s been a “last minute change” to the wiring instructions for the funds for closing. They will then instruct the buyers to send the funds to a different account, which really belongs to them.
NAR urges REALTORS® to warn their buyer clients of this scam; “Buyers should be wary of sending financial information over e-mail, downloading attachments, or responding to e-mail requests to wire money in a real estate transaction,” warns NAR President Tom Salomone.
We’ve had at least two reports of this happening here in Frederick Md this winter.
Kenneth Harney, real estate columnist with the Washington Post, wrote an article about the scam, with interview contributions from two Frederick County real estate professionals who had experienced firsthand the danger. Cybercriminals sneak in to realty deals and sneak out with $100,000 or more.