Threat Watch

As the Market Grows for Sellers, Scammers are Profiting on Real Estate as Well

Two years ago, cyber-security scams pertaining to real estate was a $19 million-dollar racket, and in a little over a year, grew to $1 Billion. It is common knowledge that when you purchase property or a home that a significant amount of money changes hands, and cyber criminals know that too. Cyber criminals have begun targeting realtors as opposed to bank or insurance institutes because the latter carry a higher grade of security precautions. A simple email is sent to the realtor or whomever holds the title and in this specific type of Spear-Phishing attack, malware infects the system and allows the monitoring of all email exchanges. Once the malware is in place, the attacker waits for a transfer to be initiated, which triggers the attacker to begin the second half of the attack. The buyer receives a spoofed email containing the information needed to initiate the transfer of funds and from there, the buyer wires the money to an account belonging to the criminal. If a victim realizes the mishap soon enough, there is a good chance a majority of the funds can be recovered. One of these instances occurred within the Weintraub family. When they notified their realtor that they had initiated the wire transfer, the realtor was quick to notice the fraudulent activity and managed to have it stopped. The Weintraub family was able to recover $362,000 of their $379,000. This goes to show that any time you are transferring a large sum of money that you should verify first in person or by phone.

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