Yikes and wowza, people. Let’s all avoid being sucker-punched towards the end of a transaction. Read on…
These days, many real estate firms require buyers and sellers to sign a wire fraud notification at the same time that they sign an agency agreement. Unfortunately, this is a reflection of the world we now live in, when wired seller incoming proceeds are essentially hijacked. This trend became noticeable locally in 2015, when closing attorneys would get an email requesting the proceeds to be wired to a specific account. The request came from accounts that looked almost identical to either the realtor involved or the seller. Closing attorneys have also seen this kind of fraud occur with buyers, who may be contacted directly by fraudsters, under the guise of someone officially in the transaction. In a recent six month period, over four million dollars in proceeds were hijacked in North Carolina alone.
What can you do to avoid this terrible situation?
The most important thing is that if you get wiring instructions via email, don’t act. CALL the closing attorney to ask if they’re legitimate. Use the closing attorney’s published number, NOT a number in the email!
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
–This information comes courtesy from Bagwell, Holt, Smith, a preferred closing attorney firm.