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    How Internet Fraud Affects Real Estate

    The news is a constant reminder of the evil that works the internet for new ways of taking your hard earned money. The real estate business is not exempt from these attacks.
    Many people send real estate deposits, and final closing money by bank wire transfer. Many of the title companies only accept a wire transfer at closing because its reliable that the money will be there. Checks can easily be fraudulent or have insufficient funds, even certified checks. Even these need to be verified with the bank to make certain the funds are available before giving title to a home to another person. As safe and reliable as wire funds transfers are, there can still be fraudulent activity. Here is how it works. The title company will send you wire transfer instructions that include the account number for the deposit to be made into. This should be the title company’s escrow account at their bank. Occasionally, these wire transfer instructions can be intercepted by criminals, who will change the account number to their bank account number, and the funds will be transferred to them instead. It is all professionally done, and you cannot tell their wire instructions from the title companies real wire transfer instructions.
    The good news is its a simple fix. Before you wire any money, call the title company on a verified phone number, and take directly with them. Do not have them call you, or that could be fraudulent also. Ask for them to give you the bank account information that they want the funds are transferred too. The will read the numbers to you for you to verify. Once you are comfortable that you have the authentic instructions, you can safely transfer the money. Later in the day, you can call to verify that they received the money. You should also receive a receipt of deposit from the title company.
    Always use caution whenever transferring money. People work hard at being crooks, and it sometimes pays off.
    Jim Walden
    RE/MAX Select Professionals.

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