Wire fraud: Yes, we're making you talk about it
Did you cringe when you saw the title of this blog post? You're not alone. Wire fraud is one of those awkward, dirty-feeling, taboo topics that professionals in the real estate and mortgage industries love to ignore - or try to anyways. But the risk of wire fraud can't be ignored anymore.
The 2021 stats on wire fraud are alarming! According to the ALTA 2021 Wire Fraud Survey, one in every three real estate transactions are targeted for wire fraud. A cyber crime is reported to the FBI every 43 seconds, and the average loss per fraudulent transaction has dramatically increased from $30,000 in 2016 to $96,000 in 2020. Check out some more of the stats here:
If that didn't scare you enough, the next piece of information will. Wire fraud attempts are becoming more and more prevalent locally. A recent cyberattack on the town of Peterborough resulted in a $2.3 million loss for the town. The email-based attack mimicked the look and feel of a standard email from a trusted entity that the town is used to communicating with frequently. This shows that the days of phishing emails being laughable are gone. The sophistication in today's email fraud attempts make it tough to spot the red flags to determine potential cyber attacks.
Some of those red flags you should be looking out for? Old Republic Title recommends staying vigilant always and looking out for the following:
Free, web-based email accounts
Changes or anomalies in communication
The word "kindly" - it's commonly used in fraud attempts
Sudden grammar changes or spelling mistakes
Requests with extreme urgency
Emails arriving at odd hours of the night
Payment requests to odd parties
In NH and Maine, real estate transactions are being targeted primarily through email, but recent fraud attempts show that hackers are also using text messages and phone calls to target their victims.
Due to the increase in cyberattacks, there are plenty of technology companies that focus on proactively preventing any close calls with wire fraud. At Cohen Closing & Title, we have partnered with CertifID to minimize the risk of wire fraud for our buyer, seller, and borrower clients.
CertifID's advanced technology is able to screen any parties attempting to send or receive wire instructions to verify who they are. It also provides a secure platform aside from email, phone calls or text messages for instructions to be shared and $1 million in direct insurance on each transaction.
The majority of wire fraud attempts are aimed at buyers, but sellers, loan officers, real estate agents and title companies are also targeted. It is essential for all of us to stay vigilant, to share our experiences, and to do our part to protect our transactions, our state and our clients from fraud!
Interested in learning more about CertifID or fraud? Our team would be happy to connect with you or your office for a lesson or refresher on wire fraud. Reach out to us today!