Business scam poses threat for real estate transactions

David Pollino
Posted by David Pollino

Are you buying a new home? Among the many related details you may be considering, add this caution: Criminals may use the transaction to steal from you.

view from above as older couple looks at a laptop together while going through financial paperwork.It’s a new twist in the scam known as business email compromise, or masquerading, that I have been blogging about for a few years.  It basically involves someone sending you an email asking for money to be sent under false pretenses, and it’s a $5 billion problem. That is $5 billion in actual losses, not just fraudulent transactions. (Check out our infographic for more information.)

Here are some ways to help avoid being a victim of this type of scam during a real estate transaction:

  • Do not send funds based on an email. If you get an email with wire instructions, pick up the phone and verify all the details, especially the bank and account numbers.
  • Call to verify the receipt of funds. If you were the victim of a scam or a mistake was made, the earlier you detect it (minutes or hours), the better chance you have to recall the funds.
  • Be careful clicking on links. Real estate transactions involve a lot of paperwork, and much of that paperwork is delivered online. Instead of clicking the links, go directly to the site. See this blog post for more information.
  • Protect your email. Turn on 2-factor authentication for email to keep the criminals out.
  • Check the email address. In some cases, criminals will set up an email address very close to the real recipient. When you reply, replace the email from the sender with the known email address from your address book or a business card.

Just in case you think this may be an isolated trend rather than a serious threat, consider this: The FBI has stated that on average $5.4 million is stolen every month in real estate-related scams in the Los Angeles area.

I hope you’ll follow these steps and stay #BeCyberSafe during your house-hunting activities.

Reminder: All comments are moderated prior to publication and must follow our Community Guidelines.

  • Anonymous says:

    Fraud and cybercrimes are growing so fast ONLY because we rely on unreliable signature, PIN and password systems. These crimes will continue to grow fast until we make all these three transaction concluding systems reliable as described below.

    Signature system is unreliable because in the event of crime signature does not even expose fraudster’s gender. We should have realised this obvious mistake years ago. To make signature reliable all we have to do is to apply our ID sticker (supplied by financial institutions with our photo, name and their logo printed on it) to the document and countersign. Personalised signature will increase fraudster’s risk of getting exposed and prosecuted from next to none to virtually 100%
    PIN and Password systems are unreliable because fraudsters have options to pick them. We should have realised this obvious mistake years ago. To make PIN and password systems reliable all we have to do is to store PIN on key size thumbprint activated memory stick. Call t

    Reply | 2 years ago
  • Anonymous says:

    Get rid of the damn computers and we wouldn’t have half our problems.

    Reply | 1 year ago

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