Cybercriminals targeting home buyers

Cybercriminals targeting home buyers and sellers nationwide. Tips on how to protect yourself.

This past February, a Colorado seller lost over $80,000 from the sale of their property to one of these scams.

How do the scams work? Often the computer hackers monitor email exchanges between the
parties of a real estate transaction and gain specific information, such as the buyer and seller
names, subject property address and file numbers. As the closing date approaches and
arrangements are made to wire the money to the closing company, or wire the proceeds from
the sale of the house to the sellers, the scammer will send a last-minute email from a
hijacked account or similar looking email address updating the wiring instructions to request
the money be transferred into a fraudulent bank account. The email looks legitimate and
often contains the transaction specific information the hackers obtained in the body of the
email or as an attachment.
Buyers and sellers can take just five minutes by reading the below tips to protect themselves
from becoming a victim of wire fraud:

  • Verbally contact your broker: Prior to wiring any money, you should always verbally
    contact your real estate broker to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. Do
    not rely on telephone numbers or website addresses provided within an unverified
  • Do not email financial information: Emails and texts are not secure methods to
    transmit financial information.
  • Keep a record of websites that hold your financial information: Before
    providing that information, confirm that the websites in which you input financial
    information are secure. Look for the URL to start HTTPS, the “S” stands for secure.
  • Don’t click on links: Don’t use links to get to websites. Instead, search and find the
    company and directly link to their website from your search.
  • Update your computer: Keep your operating system, browser and security software


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