This past week we had a closing, woohoo, usually a very good thing! It was a very straight forward deal with a cash buyer and a good seller. All was on track and had been very smooth from the beginning. The day before we were to close the seller’s attorney reached out to us and sent us wire transfer instructions for our overage check. No problem, we sent the overage and continued communicating as to when the seller would be coming in to sign . All of this happened as it would in any deal.
Until…. The morning of the closing, the buyer said the overage was not supposed to be wired. We explained that we had clear instructions from her attorney. She insisted this was not what her attorney was telling her. At this time, we received another e-mail from the attorney apologizing that she had inadvertently sent us the wrong wire transfer instructions. She said she had contacted the group that was receiving it and they would reject it, it would bounce back and then we could proceed.
At this point I was worried that the attorney was not being honest with her client as to her mistake. I told my assistant to make sure and continue e-mailing so we had proof of the communication.
About an hour later things were still not sorted out, the wire had not bounced back and I was starting to wonder just what was going on. My assistant could not find the number for the group that had received the wire, but the attorney in the e-mail said they had spoken with them. I told her to call the attorney and get the number for this 3rd party. When she spoke with the attorney she said that she had not given those instructions and seemed to be completely confused by our conversation. At this time I realized that either the attorney had dementia or we were the victim of fraud. It became clear the second was the case. When my assistant checked the e-mail address it was off by one letter. We had communicated all day with these people who had obviously hacked into my e-mail, because they knew everything about the deal and were able to carry on very insightful conversations about what was going on.
We have since heard so many stories just like this. It is scary to think how easily someone can get into your e-mail and redirect money. We still don’t know exactly how they got in, but I understand that people posing as Zillow leads get you to click on a link and can gain access to your account.
We have not yet heard if the money was recovered. My company, EWM, is working with Wells Fargo and Chase to track down the money. The bigger banks are very aggressive, because with so much online banking this can easily happen.
Be aware and if anyone gives you wire transfer instructions make sure and call the person giving you instructions to confirm it is correct. We have to be vigilant against this kind of crime!
If you need help buying or selling a home give Ashley Cusack a call at 305.798.8685, or visit her website at: Luxury Miami Real Estate.
My focused dedication as a realtor in my home town of Miami for over 25 years, consistently puts me at the top of my field. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let me help you from start to finish with my results-proven: professional marketing, excellent property exposure and comprehensive experience.
As the #7 Realtor company-wide at EWM in 2014, my focus is on Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and South Miami — specializing in luxury real estate and waterfront properties. Call me today and let’s get started!