A new email-based scam appears to be targeting National Association of Realtors (NAR) members and preying on their good will and charitable inclinations during the holidays.

The scam involves a phishing attempt in which someone masquerading as the Realtor Party, NAR’s political advocacy arm, emails NAR members asking to “Support Diana” with a donation of money, the organization said Sunday in a statement. The message invites people to contribute to a GoFundMe page.

However, according to NAR the campaign is bogus.

“This solicitation is not from the Realtor Party or the National Association of Realtors,” NAR said in its statement. “NAR will never solicit donations for personal or individual charities.”

When NAR does solicit donations, it uses the Realtors Relief Foundation, which is its proprietary charitable giving entity.

The phishing attempt comes just weeks after a new report indicated real estate companies are one of cyber attackers’ primary targets. Since mid-2017, only biotech companies has seen more attacks than real estate businesses.

Real estate companies are frequently targeted because they deal in high-value transactions that “occur frequently and mainly take place digitally,” according to Ryan Terry, a manager at Proofpoint, the company that produced the report.

Credit: Proofpoint

Phishing is a popular method for targeting real estate companies and can be used to wrest sensitive information such as passwords from people before they even realize what is happening. Terry said last month that phishing attempts are often customized and use “believable, and often expected, requests for personal information and payments” — which is essentially what is happening with this latest scam.

The warning about the ongoing “Support Diana” scam also came near the end of Hanukkah and 15 days before Christmas, a period when charitable giving typically goes up. And it comes as cybersecurity becomes a greater and greater concern among those in the real estate industry.

NAR did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for information Monday on how widely this latest phishing attempt has spread or what information might be compromised.

However, according to NAR’s statement, anyone who has received the “Support Diana” phishing attempt should alert member support via email at ContactNAR@realtors.org and delete the fraudulent message. Anyone who has donated to the scam should contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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