|As cybercrime becomes more prevalent and cyber-criminals become more savvy, it is important to protect yourself, your customers, and clients from this kind of fraud by being aware of how cyber-criminals operate.
The GAR Forms Committee encourages agents and brokers to use the following warning in as many of their transactions (including agency and customer agreements, purchase and sale agreements and lease agreements) as possible to place their clients and customers on notice and to emphasize the importance of independently validating any wiring instructions that may be received:
Beware of Cyber Fraud.
Fake e-mails attempting to get you to wire money to criminal computer hackers are increasingly common in real estate transactions. Under this scam, computer hackers fraudulently assume the online identity of the actual mortgage lender, closing attorney and/or real estate broker with whom you are working in the real estate transaction. Posing as a legitimate company, they then direct you to wire money to them. In many cases, the fake e-mail is sent from what appears to be the authentic web page of the legitimate company responsible for sending the wiring instructions.
You should use great caution in wiring funds based solely on wiring instructions sent to you by e-mail. Independently verifying the wiring instructions with someone from the company sending them is the best way to prevent fraud. In particular, you should treat as highly suspect any follow up e-mails you receive from a mortgage lender, closing attorney and/or real estate broker directing you to wire funds to a revised account number. Never verify wiring instructions by calling a telephone number provided along with a second set of wiring instructions since you may end up receiving a fake verification from the computer hackers trying to steal your money. Independently look up the telephone number of the company who is supposed to be sending you the wiring instructions to make sure you have the right one.
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