On March 18 the FTC Consumer Blog issued a post focused on hackers who have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again.
If you are buying a home in Minnesota assume that requests to wire money are bogus if they are coming from real estate agents. Be very suspicious of wiring requests from anyone asking for closing costs. Real estate agents and real estate companies do not ask for money wires.
We do have a system called “TrustFunds” for electronic earnest money payment. A link is sent to the buyer with a request for earnest money. It isn’t the same as wiring money and it is easy to verify that the request came from your buyer’s agent. That money goes into a real estate trust account where it is held until the closing or cancellation of the purchase agreement.
As a listing agent, I have gotten all sorts of weird emails from people who want access to my bank accounts so they can send me money to pay for homes I have listed . . ya . . . right. Real estate agents and companies are targeted for various scams.
Avoid emailing any kind of financial information.