WAYNE, NJ – As the real estate market continues its upward trend in Wayne and the surrounding areas, the opportunities for fraud also climb. Real estate attorney, Olivia Ottens of Michalski-Ottens Law helps to protect her clients in a number of ways. Making sure her clients do not become victims of wire fraud is just one.
“Whenever buyers are in the process of purchasing a home, initially there's a deposit that’s put into escrow and this money is generally wired from one bank to another,” explained Ottens. “It's important before the money is wired to call the source and verify all the information, like the key bank account number the institution it’s going to and so forth.”
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), wire fraud in real estate transactions is one of the fastest growing cybercrimes in the U.S.
On the NAR website reads the following chilling statistic: “About 11,300 people were victims of wire fraud in the real estate and rental sector in 2018 (a 17% increase over 2017), with losses of more than $150 million, according to FBI data.”
The NAR website also shares this information: “The highest reported fraud in real estate in 2017 was Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC.) Fraudsters will assume the identity of the title, real estate agent or closing attorney and forge the person’s email and other details about the transaction. The scammers will then send an email to the unknowing buyer and provide new wire instructions to the criminal’s bank account.”
“It’s important, and as simple as a phone call, to just verify all the information is correct before wiring the deposit,” said Ottens. “This has happened, and it can happen. I always make sure my clients are aware of it and I make sure that they take the extra moment, because you do not want to lose the funds you need to buy your home.”