Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fraudulent Wire Transfer Instructions in Real Estate Transactions

Real estate attorneys are ripe targets for cyber fraud in real estate transactions. The standard scam goes like this: the attorney requests wiring instructions for sending the seller the sale proceeds. Just before the closing, the attorney's office receives an email, in format and appearance identical to the seller's, advising of a change in the wiring instructions. After the closing, the attorney's office wires the funds to the new wiring instructions. It turns out the new wiring instructions are fraudulent and the attorney has just wired the seller's money to a scammer.
Luckily, scams of this kind are susceptible to a distinctly old-fashioned method of prevention: call the person who is supposed to be getting the money and orally confirm the wiring instructions before wiring the funds.
This scam may be familiar to readers but I found this this blog summary of the problem a good one, especially since the author shares a few tips I had not heard of, like the simple expedient of never accepting wiring instructions in email and inserting a P&S provision giving the conveyancing attorney discretion to require secure wiring instructions to his/her satisfaction.

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