An October article for Bloomberg BusinessWeek describes an increasingly common cyber crime perpetrated against home buyers.
Since most title companies want the money for closings wired to their bank accounts, scammers have mastered the art of impersonating real estate agents, loan officers and escrow agents and sending highly credible emails providing the wrong wiring instructions for buyers’ down payments. These down payments can often be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if the authorities aren’t notified of the deception within minutes, those wired funds are typically out of the country and not recoverable.
That’s why all buyers should be suspicious of any email containing wiring instructions and always call the title company to get the correct wiring instructions verbally. And don’t call the number for the title company that’s in the suspicious email! Look up the phone number or get it from your paperwork.
Wire fraud is so common that one of my favorite title companies, First Integrity Title, has a wire fraud warning instead of music on hold when you call them. After several times on hold with them, it can become pretty annoying, but that just shows how important they consider the warning to be, because too many home buyers have lost their life savings and the home that they were about to close on.