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IMPORTANT: Wire Fraud Targets Real Estate Transactions

Recently some MRIS customers have reported a particularly insidious wire scam. A hacker will use a phishing attack to be given access to a subscriber's e-mail account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. The hacker will send an e-mail to the buyer, posing either as the title company representative or as the agent. The fraudulent e-mail will contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and will request that the buyer send transaction-related funds accordingly. Unfortunately, some buyers have fallen for this scheme, and have lost money. This is happening nationally as reported by NAR.

However, unlike many other e-mail-based "phishing" schemes, these are less recognizable as fraud. The communications do not contain the typical grammatical or stylistic oddities that are often present in scam e-mails. NAR reports that because the hacker has been monitoring the licensee's e-mail accounts, the fraudulent communication may include detailed and accurate information pertaining to the real estate transaction, including existing wire and banking information, file numbers, and key dates, names, and addresses. Finally, the e-mails may come from what appears to be a legitimate e-mail address, either because the hacker has successfully created a sham account containing a legitimate business's name, or because he or she is sending the e-mail from a truly legitimate, albeit hacked, account.

If you have an upcoming settlement, we strongly recommend that you alert your clients to this fraudulent wire scam and always confirm wiring instructions in person or via phone.

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