WHAT IS WIRE FRAUD?
Wire fraud – Just those two little words can send shivers down your spine. No one thinks it will happen to them, and no one understands just how prevalent it is in the real estate industry. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you know that the world has gone fully digital for all things shopping, selling, communicating, and more thanks to COVID-19.
With this drastic turn to all things digital, these swindlers have quickly adapted to this new world. Real estate and rental fraud ranks #7 out of more than 30 types of fraud according to the FBI. Learn how to protect yourself and your clients by identifying the common red flags in email communication seen below.
WHAT ARE THE RED FLAGS?
- Use of the word “kindly.” According to industry reports, most cybercrime is committed by fraudsters overseas where this word is commonly used instead of “please.”
- Negative Words or Unusual Sense of Urgency. The email states/implies there are consequences to not following the instructions. Are they instructing you not to verify information or changing information previously established; does it make since in this transaction?
- “Failure,” “must not,” “avoid,” etc.
- Grammar mistakes.
- Missing punctuation, misspelled words, improper syntax, incorrect formatting, etc.
2. Changes in Wiring Instructions:
- Change in instruction that differs from previous communication.
- Different font or type size from the rest of the document.
- Receiving bank does not match the payoff statement.
- Recipient’s name on the account differs from original party or lender.
3. Spoofed Emails:
- Always check domain names when receiving emails, and when replying to emails.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (NOT email@example.com)
- Good rule of thumb is to “Forward” not “Reply” to emails and re-type the needed recipient email addresses.
- A spoof email can appear legitimate until you hit “Reply” and the domain name changes.
HOW CAN YOU STAY PROTECTED?
- Ensure your passwords are strong and use two-factor authentication for your email account.
- Communicate with trusted, known telephone numbers when discussing wiring instructions.
- Check your email rules & alerts regularly.
- Ensure your email settings do not have auto-forwarding to unknown addresses or other rules not created by you.
- Check your Sent folder regularly. Ensure you have no emails in your Sent folder that were not sent by you.