Fraud Alert: Buyer’s Money At Risk, Closings in Jeopardy

There’s a scam that’s been active in the US and is now hitting close to home – Berkshire Attorney, Mike Shepard advises of a recent scenario:  The closing is set, and the buyer’s lawyer informs buyer to bring a bank check to the closing in the necessary amount, as usual. THEN… the morning of closing, the buyer receives an email which appears to be coming from their lawyer (or buyer’s agent, in some cases) instructing them to wire the money directly to “their attorney’s account” instead. The buyer’s lawyer has nothing to do with it – it’s a scam – the funds are actually directed to a cyber-criminal and once gone, cannot be recouped. There is no insurance for this type of loss, and if the buyer can’t perform (i.e. provide the down payment), they also are in default of the Purchase and Sale agreement and will lose their deposit.

How did the scammer know to send that perfectly timed message? It has been proven that this occurred in the past because the lawyer or agent’s email was account was hacked, data breached and the closing date was obtained from there.

How to combat this? TELL EVERY BUYER YOU WORK WITH, IMMEDIATELY, TO NEVER TRANSFER, WIRE OR DISCUSS FUNDS VIA EMAIL. Unless there is a high level of encryption, all emails are vulnerable and buyers can and have been duped. If the closing attorney would like the buyer to wire money, the buyer or buyer’s agent should call directly to the law office to confirm instructions.  Always be wary of online requests for money, account numbers or scare tactics.