Posted on September 24, 2018 at 4:23 PM
Latest happenings have revealed a turn of attention by hackers to US real estate deals. The FBI has reported an upsurge in the number of email frauds associated with real estate deals with victims losing heavily.
The Butchers’ Nasty Experience
As James and Candace Butcher draw very close to their retirement, they thought it wise to purchase their dream home. All these years they have been working and saving to purchase this dream home for their retirement. So, at the closing hour of this fateful day, they received an email from their bank on the modality to make the payments. Without hesitation, the couple wired 272,000 USD from their bank accounts based on the instructions contained in the mail.
In a matter of hours, the funds disappeared. Hackers have performed the works! They have hacked the settlement company’s email account and consequently changed the wiring instruction. As such, the hefty life savings of this couple has been unfortunately stolen. This was made known in a suit filed in one state court.
More People Becoming Victims
The Internet Crime Compliant Center of the US FBI has reported an alarming increase in the number of victims of email frauds. Their report made it clear that from the previous 1,110% rate in 2015, email fraud victims have risen to almost 2,200% in 2017. In total, at least ten thousand people fell victim to this kind of fraud with the total amount of money lost put at 56 million USD.
Good enough, the Butchers at the end were able to reach an out-of-court settlement plan with their bank and real estate agent on how to get their money back. This position was made known by Ian Hicks who is the couple’s lawyer.
Based on this recent trend, it would be expedient for anyone hoping to go into any real estate deal in the US to exercise a high level of caution as hackers now seem to be fixated on wreaking more havoc along that line.
Hackers have had their ways in the US real estate sector primarily because of security lax in that line of business. Again, the loss has been so huge because businesses in this line involve a large payoff at once. Mr. Hicks who has been involved in countless cases of this infraction in the US says “the fraudsters know all of the particulars of the transaction, things that are completely confidential, things they should not know.”
Business Email Compromise
Business Email Compromise is an umbrella name given by the FBI to all frauds associated with businesses transacted vial emails. Real estate hacking belongs to this category. In total, frauds associated with business email compromise have led to the loss of at least 12 billion USD in the past 5 years according to the FBI’s report.
The FBI says that the real estate business transaction is particularly loved by hackers because of the huge amount of money involved and because players in the sector are not usually technologically inclined. One Ms. DeGrippo while commenting on this unfortunate trend said:
Sometimes they [the hackers] know more about the business than the employees do… Consumers may also be less cautious when they are feeling positive about a new home, making it easy to fall prey to scammers.
According to DeGrippo, this latest scheme must have originated abroad, perhaps from Russia or Africa. She opined that apart from the possibility of it being foreign, the hackers have perfected ways of avoiding being detected. In her view, by using what she calls “money mules,” hackers are able to move funds across multiple banks.