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Wire Fraud: What You Need to Know

Are you getting ready to buy or sell your home? First of all, congrats! You’re about to experience a life-changing event, and while you may be excited, it’s important to be aware of any problems that could come up along the way. Unfortunately, there are plenty of scams out there that you need to know about—and wire fraud is one of the worst.

If you’re not familiar with one of the costliest real estate crimes, don’t worry—we have all the details.

What is wire fraud?

Woman on a tablet

Although you might know a bit about wire fraud already, it affects buyers, sellers, and agents a bit differently. Simply put, real estate wire fraud involves a scammer posing as someone you trust and getting you to wire the money for your new home to their own account.

Although we’d all like to think we wouldn’t fall for a spammy email, fraudsters are getting better and better at imitating real messages. They could pretend to be your agent, attorney, or even your lender—and you might not even know it. Perhaps the worst part about wire fraud is that it’s irreversible, which means that you could lose your entire life savings from a fraudulent email.

How common is it?

Woman on a computer

Many victims of wire fraud don’t find out until it’s too late—and the crime itself is more common than you’d think. In fact, the FBI estimates that Americans have lost $150 million to real estate scams last year, and over 11,000 buyers have fallen prey to wire fraud in 2018.

While these numbers are pretty low, we can’t even begin to estimate how many unsuccessful wire fraud attempts have been made over the last few years. Even if you think you won’t be next, it’s crucial to stay vigilant. After all, real estate crimes in the United States have soared by over 1,000% since 2015.

What are some red flags?

Women on a ledge with laptop

Being aware of wire fraud isn’t enough. If you really want to protect yourself and your assets, you need to know of a few common red flags that might come up during the closing process. First and foremost, always be wary of sudden changes to your wire transfer that come via email. Today’s scammers can hack into and even imitate the email of someone you trust—and their address could be off by just a letter.

Many hackers will also refuse to contact you via phone or emphasize using a different routing number for the transfer. If even a single number is off or different, don’t hesitate to call your agent or reach out in person. There’s no such thing as being too careful when your life savings is on the line.

If you want to add another failsafe, you can even contact your bank and tell them to not allow a wire transfer without a verbal confirmation from you. Remember, if you ever have any doubts, it’s completely okay to give your agent a call. They’re always here to help you!

Work with a Team You Can Trust

Wire fraud is a scary situation that no buyer or seller wants to be in—but the right agent can help keep you safe. If you’re thinking about making a move in the Minneapolis area, just contact the David Azbill Group. We have the tools you need to protect your biggest investment, and we’re here to answer any questions you might have.

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