Wire Fraud

Wire fraud is a type of financial fraud that involves the use of electronic communication methods, such as email or phone calls, to deceive individuals or organizations into transferring funds. Perpetrators often pose as legitimate entities, manipulating victims into wiring money under false pretenses.

PRO TIP: The most common tactic in wire fraud within real estate transactions is when someone within the transaction has their email hacked. The hackers then send wire instructions to one or more of the parties with fraudulent account numbers. ALWAYS VERIFY WIRE INSTRUCTIONS, BANK, and ACCOUNT NUMBERS by double or triple checking. The easiest way to do this is to physically call the title company on their published phone number and speak to a representative to verify any written instructions.

Wire fraud is very real and many Pennsylvania Title Companies have experienced wire fraud or attempts at wire fraud.

Common Wire Fraud Tactics:

a. Phishing Emails: Fraudsters craft convincing emails, often mimicking legitimate entities such as banks or businesses. These emails may contain malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, lead to fake websites designed to capture sensitive information.

b. Business Email Compromise (BEC): In BEC scams, attackers gain unauthorized access to a business email account and use it to request fraudulent wire transfers. This tactic often targets employees responsible for financial transactions.

c. Impersonation: Perpetrators may pose as trusted individuals, such as company executives or vendors, convincing victims to transfer funds based on false information.

Protecting Yourself from Wire Fraud:

a. Verify Transactions: Before processing any wire transfer, independently verify the legitimacy of the request through known contact information, especially if the request is unexpected.

b. Use Secure Communication: Employ secure channels for sensitive communications, and be cautious of unexpected emails or messages requesting financial transactions.

c. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication: Enable multi-factor authentication for email accounts and financial systems to add an extra layer of security.

d. Educate and Train: Raise awareness among employees, colleagues, and family members about the risks of wire fraud. Regular training sessions can help individuals recognize potential threats.

e. Establish Confirmation Protocols: Implement a process for confirming wire transfer requests, especially for large sums or unfamiliar transactions.

Reporting Wire Fraud Incidents:

If you fall victim to wire fraud, it is crucial to report the incident promptly. Contact your financial institution, local law enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) website.

Here are some additional resources to learn more:

Cyber criminals target real estate industry
Wire Fraud – The Criminal Fraud Threatening Real Estate
FBI Pivots Investigative Energy To Real Estate Wire Fraud
Real Estate Wire Fraud: Why Criminals are Targeting Homebuyers
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Ryan Hess

Ryan Hess is a highly recognized real estate industry-expert in Pennsylvania. Since his initial licensure and start as an agent in 1995, he excelled as an agent, team leader, and award winning broker/owner for Coldwell Banker with over 300 agents and offices throughout central PA. When he isn’t immersed in his ever-expanding career, Ryan enjoys golf, pickleball, skiing, and sailing. Ryan has four adult children, two grandchildren, and two needy dogs.

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