You didn’t receive my deposit??? But I wired it this morning…

We all know about hackers and have heard the term, “wire fraud”. It’s easy to think, “that’s not going to happen to me”. Think again. Wire fraud is one of the most prevalent cyber-crimes in the US and it’s not slowing down.

In fact, personal friends, who live in another state, just fell victim to this terrible crime. They finally found their dream home and were under contract, anxious to close without any hiccups. After receiving wire instructions for the down payment, they completed the process of sending the funds. What they didn’t realize is that a hacker had intercepted the email from escrow and changed the account number ever so slightly.

So, what happened? They sent their down payment to a thief. To add insult to injury, they were still under contract to close on the house. Luckily, they were able to borrow money and purchase the home. There’s an ongoing investigation in search of the hacker who stole their money.

Most folks in this situation would have a hard time coming up with another $300,000 to close on the home. So, what can you do to prevent this happening to you?

– Before sending any money, always verify the wire instructions by phone using the phone number you’ve previously called and speaking with a person whose voice you recognize.
– Never directly respond to the email that contains the wire instructions and never call the phone number that is contained within that email.
– Avoid using your personal email account for any wire transfers – it’s best to use the secure website of the bank.
– Secure your devices and accounts with dual-factor authentication.
– Be suspicious of any changes to wiring instructions, rush requests, or requests right before a weekend or holiday. Hackers use those times because you can’t reach an escrow company or bank over the weekend or holiday, giving them extra time to move the funds out of the country.

If you are a victim of wire fraud, it’s critical to take action IMMEDIATELY. The digital world affords us many conveniences, but we also need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves and our assets.

Photo by Yan Krukov