Feds Cracking Down on Uptick in Wire Fraud
Financial institutions around the country have seen an increase in wire fraud activity this year, especially through email phishing and ransomware. According to the Verizon Business 2018 Data Breach Investigations report, ransomware was the fifth most prevalent cybersecurity threat, impacting more businesses than traditional malware, spyware, and the use of stolen credentials. Email phishing and ransomware can have a devastating impact on the finances of consumers and businesses alike.
Earlier this month, Federal authorities arrested almost 75 people for their participation in a “Business Email Compromise” scam that conned employees out of company information to gain access to company finances, foreign supply chains, and wire transfer payments. Just last week, eight more people were arrested and four were charged with a scam that allegedly defrauded companies out of over $15 million over the course of several years.
When a financial institution, like a mortgage or real estate company, experiences an email hack, fraudulent wire instructions sent by cyber criminals can cause consumers to lose the funds they are attempting to transfer, with little chance of getting the money back.
Some common ways to avoid becoming a victim of wire transfer fraud are:
- Always verify the wiring instructions with the Title Company or Attorney over the phone. Never accept via email only.
- Be suspicious when receiving an email notification that wiring instructions for a Title Company or Attorney has changed. It is very rare that a change like this will occur during a transaction.
- Get the Title Company or Attorney’s wiring information ahead of time, not at the time of closing.
- If you suspect Wire Transfer Fraud has occurred, or are concerned with a transaction, please contact the CMG Financial Fraud Department immediately.
Wire transfer fraud is one of the most common ways hackers infiltrate financial institutions, especially mortgage and real estate companies where large transfers regularly take place. The best line of defense is caution and staying informed. If you are in the process of buying or selling a home, and believe you’ve received a suspicious email, do not click on any links and call the alleged sender to confirm its validity.