It’s no secret that cybercrimes happen every day, but fraudsters’ tactics have become increasingly complex and more difficult to detect. Combine that with the busyness of the holiday season, and it can mean disaster for victims who fall prey to wire fraud schemes.
According to a recent study by Forbes Advisor, Georgia is the No. 1 state for financial fraud. “Georgia is the state where financial scams are most prevalent,” the study reports. “With 437 fraud reports for every 100,000 residents during the first quarter of 2023.”
Wire fraud in real estate transactions is one of the fastest-growing schemes. Real estate wire scams occur when someone who is buying or refinancing a home wires money to a scammer’s account, typically because of false wiring instructions sent to them in an email.
Below are some examples of what to look out for:
- An unexpected and last-minute attempt to change wiring instructions.
- Phishing emails that prompt you to change your password.
- Any emails or phone calls from people you’ve never dealt with before who are pressuring you to act swiftly.
- Bad grammar or emails wrought with spelling errors.
- Hyperlinks in emails that when you hover over them show a different URL or website than expected.
- Phone calls or emails from people who encourage you to give them access to your computer to upload protective software because “your account or computer has been compromised.”
- Emails where the name of a company is spelled wrong or the logos, footers, or other graphics look off.
What Can I Do to Avoid Becoming a Wire Fraud Victim?
Paying attention to the tips listed above will help keep you safe from wire fraud scams. The most important thing, though, is to never be rushed. Consult with your real estate agent, lender, and closing attorney so you know exactly what to expect before your closing.
While a closing date may change, there is not usually a last-minute requirement that you wire the money immediately to avoid losing the home or property. If you do receive an email or phone call that requests you to urgently wire the money, contact your lender or bank directly before sending any money. You should also confirm the intended recipient. Do not ever call a new number or respond to a new email that has wiring instructions. Make sure you are speaking directly with the intended recipient before ever wiring money.
What Should I Do if I Become a Victim of Wire Fraud?
If you realize you have fallen victim to wire fraud, there are steps you can immediately take to minimize the damage.
- Inform all involved parties immediately.
- When you suspect a payment has been made in error or may be fraudulent, send a stop and recall request to the Tracker.
- Contact your insurance company and alert them of the issue.
- Contact legal counsel.
- Report the fraud to law enforcement and get a report.
- File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
The best way to protect yourself and your business from fraud this holiday season is to be informed and stay vigilant. If you have any questions about wire fraud or suspect you’ve become a victim, contact us at 706-354-4000 or fill out our contact form online and tell us about it.