Scam steals closing money by hacking agent, escrow email

Deposits necessary to purchase a home are being diverted into hacker accounts, leaving buyers high and dry
  • Scammers are stealing homebuyers' money by hacking agent and escrow email accounts, monitoring transactions and mimicking official email.
  • Closing costs are being illegally diverted to hacker accounts.
  • The best way to avoid this fraud is to never email money transfer instructions to clients -- always call.

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Imagine you're a first-time homebuyer who gets an email from your real estate agent or the escrow or title agency. The email instructs you to wire your closing cost money -- which sometimes includes your entire down payment -- to a bank account, and the style of communication, signature and email address all belong to someone you know and trust. That's the nefarious method some hackers are using to divert buyers' money into their own bank accounts, potentially leaving the buyer high and dry when the time comes to close the deal and derailing a home purchase for good. It is a sneaky but simple fraud that experts say is widespread. On Wednesday, Washington Realtors released a video warning about the scam, and on Friday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a blog post. How it works Thieves hack into a real estate agent or escrow officer email account. They then monitor these accounts through the home closing process and create a perfect mimic of the email style and sig...