Homebuyer loses $155K in email scam

Homebuyer loses $155K in email scam

By Greg Collier

A woman in the state of Georgia was getting ready to close on a new home when she received an email from her lawyer. She was given instructions to wire transfer the $155,000 for the closing costs. However, the money did not go to the attorney. Instead, it went to the bank account of a local scammer who was recently arrested on felony theft charges.

So, how was the scammer able to fool the victim? This scam is known as the business email compromise scam, or BEC for short. In this scam, the scammers hijack compromised email accounts of real estate attorneys, title companies, or banks. This way, the scammers can monitor the emails for people who are getting ready to close on their homes. Then, the scammers either use the hijacked email address or a spoofed address to give fraudulent instructions to the homebuyer to wire the money to the scammers. Meanwhile, the victims think they just closed on a new home.

According to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, this scam is becoming more common. This scam is so profitable, the scammers only need one victim to fall for the scam to make a ton of money.

While you may not be in the market for a home right now, you may be in the future. So, it’s best to have this knowledge now instead of finding out before it’s too late. When the time comes to buy a home, the best way to protect yourself is to verify everything by phone. If you get an email from someone involved in the process asking you to make a substantial payment, call them to verify the request. It might be even better to visit the sender in person to verify any requests. No one wants to go through the stressful process of buying a new home only to have their dreams of a new home dashed by losing money to a scammer.