Buying a home can be the proudest moment of your life, but real estate insiders say cyber thieves are on the prowl. Homebuyer Ted Williams lost $300,000 dollars after he says a hacker sent fraudulent wiring instruction to his email.
“It looked like it was coming through the real estate agency and their lawyers. So I just said okay, go ahead,” he said.
When he showed up to closing he found out he sent the money to the wrong account.
“I was informed the money wasn’t there, and I said what do you mean the money is not there,” he said. He later realized, the day the wiring instructions were sent, he received two emails.
He says the second email looked identical to the first, but two things were changed. The bank name was different and there were grammar mistakes in the email.
“This is happening a lot more often than I even realized,” Igor Shrayev with The Lending Group Company told us.
Shrayev called NBC 6 Responds after one of his clients in the Miami area got a similar email.
“The grammar was a little bit quirky, the name of the title company was a little bit misspelled,” he told us. Shrayev caught the red flags and saved his client from losing thousands, but the risk for other home buyers and real estate investors is still there.
Now a company hopes to use technology to prevent crimes like these. Nate Baker founded Qualia.
“It keep all the communication in one place so that it is secure and simple,” Baker said..
The technology helps to process home sales and aims to stop the scams. Qualia offers agents software with a digital safe room, where Baker says home buying communication can take place with only trusted and verified participants allowed inside.
Other companies offer similar technology but not all agents are using secure communication platforms. Baker travels the country speaking to groups of real estate insiders. Our cameras were in a meeting in Andover, Massachusetts.
“It’s always best to talk to your title company, but you need to in addition to that communicate securely via a common secure platform,” he told us about real estate transactions.
Real Estate Attorney Barry Finegold agrees with Baker.
“I believe that if more and more people adopt software that’s safe and secure,” said Finegold.
Real estate insiders say there are ways home buyers can help ensure their down payments make it to the right place. When you receive the wiring instructions call your closing agent and verbally verify the bank account number, routing number and the amount being transferred is correct.