Wire Fraud - two more central Ohio victims!

There's been two more victims of wire fraud in central Ohio recently!

The FBI has contacted Columbus REALTORS® to inform us of an increase in Wire/Cyber Fraud schemes. At least two additional central Ohio title companies have fallen victim to recent wire/cyber fraud activity with a combined loss of more than $300,000. Several dozen attempts have also been made on consumers and title companies.

Both buyers and sellers are being targeted in commercial and residential transactions. 
If you or a colleague have fallen victim to a possible wire fraud, please report the instance to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). If there was some kind of loss involved, please contact local Dan Leeper, Supervisory Special Agent with the Columbus office of the FBI office immediately at (614) 849-1827.
Here are six tips for keeping the transaction secure:

  1. Build a standard warning about wire scams into your e-mail signature or include a disclaimer at the bottom of your e-mails that says you will not discuss personal financial information via e-mail. (See example below.)
  2. At the beginning of every transaction (if not sooner), tell your clients (buyers and sellers) that wire fraud attempts are occurring regularly in central Ohio and explain your communication practices.
  3. If you or your agents do engage in a wire transfer with a client, call them on the phone immediately prior to the transfer of funds so they know they’re sending money to the legitimate source.
  4. You and your clients should avoid free Wi-Fi with no firewall to protect against hackers capturing an e-mail password or other sensitive information.
  5. Always use strong passwords and change them regularly; advise your clients to do the same. It also wouldn’t hurt for your client to change their password before wire instructions are sent.
  6. Brokers should consider employing a staff person who is responsible for monitoring, updating, and implementing information security systems and procedures at your company.

Find out more from NAR here.

Example of warning to use in your email signature:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Never trust wiring instructions sent via email. Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts and sending emails with fake wiring instructions. These emails are convincing and sophisticated. Always independently confirm wiring instructions in person or via a telephone call to a trusted and verified phone number. Never wire money without double-checking that the wiring instructions are correct