Scammers are Using Wire Fraud to Divert Your Mortgage Closing Costs
One of life’s most memorable and important moments can be the closing of a home mortgage. This is the final stage of a very lengthy – and sometimes stressful – home buying process which involves the exchange of critical paperwork and sizable down payment funds.
How does mortgage closing cost wire fraud work?
Mortgage wire fraud scams are highly sophisticated and rely on a combination of complicated hacking techniques that include phishing and spoofing.
- Using the technique of phishing, a scammer will create targeted, well-written fake emails that impersonate someone you trust like your real estate agent or closing attorney. The emails look authentic and may contain personal information retrieved from a hacked real estate agent or attorney’s email system.
- Scammers may also use a technique called spoofing which is a special software that integrates your real estate agent’s email address or phone number, making it look official and trustworthy. Using either technique, the scammer acquires critical information about you, your loan and how much you owe for closing.
The goal of the scammer is to get your closing cost funds into their account. Playing on your emotions, the scammer will use last-minute urgency, an error in calculations or claim that you were accidentally sent the wrong wire transfer instructions to coax you into wiring them your closing cost funds. Once a wire transfer is initiated, it’s very difficult to get your money back.
Signs to look for
- Email subject lines that promote a sense of urgency or have last minute changes and/or new, unexpected processes for sending funds (i.e. “URGENT: New Instructions for Wiring Your Closing Funds”)
- Suspicious website links and unexpected attachments
- Email address of the sender that has been altered to include additional text to make it look legitimate (such as @mortgagecompanyname.home.com)
- Communication from your real estate agent or closing attorney that is unexpected and not a part of your original closing schedule