Do you ever have those days where you find yourself exclaiming, “WTF?” Well, here at Pioneer Title Agency, that happens daily. Of course, we are talking about Wire Transfer Fraud.
In the real estate industry, wire transfer fraud is a real villain, and according to the FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report, WTF incidents continue to increase. In 2019, there were 11,677 victims reported, with $221 million in losses. Compared to 2018, when there were 11,300 reported victims with $150 million in losses. In other words, fraudsters are getting better each year. While these numbers seem large, according to the FBI, only 15% of incidents are reported.
Overall, for 2019, the FBI reported that IC3 received 467,361 complaints. That is approximately 1,300 a day! There was over $3.5 billion in losses to individual and business victims.
That doesn’t mean your title company isn’t putting up a fight. Diane Tomb, ALTA’s Cheif Executive Officer, shared, “The title and settlement industry has improved its digital hygiene and implemented many procedures to combat this fraud.” Unfortunately, most of the time, fraudsters are targeting the consumers. Diane continued to explain, “No matter how much money we spend, criminals will continue to target consumers. This is why we must continue to educate people about how they can protect their money when purchasing a home or refinancing a mortgage.”
One way Title Companies are stepping up to the fight is through the ALTA Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud. More companies and organizations realize the importance of raising awareness about mortgage closing scams. Pioneer Title Agency is proud to be a part of the coalition.
Here at Pioneer Title Agency, we are trying to get creative on how we warn our customers about wire fraud. From verbal warnings and letters to WTF socks and social media posts, we are trying to help customers SOCK IT to the fraudsters.
But with all this, how are the fraudsters targeting consumers??
According to the FBI, the most frequently reported complaints were:
Phishing and similar ploys
Romance or confidence fraud
Mimicking the account of a person or vendor known to the victim to gather personal or financial information
The Cheif of IC3, Donna Gregory, explained that fraudsters are deploying new tactics and techniques to carry out existing scams. She explained, “Criminals are getting so sophisticated. It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake.”
While fraudulent emails have been the most common, we are now seeing frauds using text messages or fake websites.
Anytime you receive contact regarding funds or money, be extremely skeptical, especially if there is urgency in the email. We always recommend you call your escrow officer at a safe, known number (not one in a suspicious email) and verbally confirm your wire instructions. Our wire instructions will not change.
For more information on Wire Transfer Fraud, check out some of our other blog posts below or call your local escrow officer!
Pioneer Title Agency is a full service company with an operating philosophy of "Commitment to Service." The company provides title insurance, escrow, account servicing, trustee sales, as well as builder related trust services through more than 70 offices in Arizona.