It is easy to find statistics demonstrating that wire fraud causes billions to be lost each year. And, while we might be able to appreciate the enormity of these numbers, the stories that involve dishonest activities, especially when it comes to real estate transactions, often get lost in the stats. Stories can help to illuminate the methods that fraudsters use on their victims. That is why it can be helpful to focus on individual cases of real estate wire fraud.
The Story of Gracie Veronica
Gracie Veronica, a woman from Texas, was hit by real estate wire fraud. Her story mirrors those of thousands of others. During the real estate closing process, Gracie Veronica received an email that she thought was from her title company. In the email, Veronica was requested to make a down payment on the property that she was purchasing. What happened next was a part of an unfortunate experience that caused her to lose her down payment.
How Gracie Veronica Lost Her Money
The day before Veronica was supposed to close on her new home, she received an email that seemed to be from her title company. The email requested that the down payment and closing costs be sent to a bank in Arlington. Veronica acquiesced and sent off $45,000. She assumed that the money had been received when she heard nothing from the title company.
This story is a vivid example of a real case of wire fraud. A fraudster learns the details of transaction progress, then mimics the contact information of an agent, and eventually jumps in the middle of a conversation at the right moment. The fraudster likely obtains all of the information, such as the title officer name, closing date, and address. The recipient might not notice anything suspicious. Unfortunately, if the recipient falls for the scheme, the money is hard to recover.
According to experts, if a wire transfer is not intercepted within a day, the money might be gone. Indeed, while Gracie‘s friends and family have started a GoFundMe to help the poor lady save enough for another down payment, her original down payment funds are gone.
How to Notice and Prevent Wire Fraud
Homebuyers are urged to look for fraud by paying attention to misspellings in emails or poor grammar. However, wire fraud can still come from bad actors with a strong command of the English language. To avoid the risk of wire fraud, buyers can look into using platforms like Propy.
Propy offers an example of a technology which allows all communications to happen within the Transaction Management Platform (instead of email servers outside of the network). In these cases, it becomes all but impossible for a fraudster to impersonate an agent and extort the savings of those like Gracia Veronica.