Real estate transactions undergo much legal scrutiny and oversight. Law enforcement often monitors real estate transactions for signs of money laundering and other crimes.
Real estate wire fraud
Here’s how a typical mortgage wire fraud scenario works: In the weeks and days before the scheme’s execution, individuals gather information about the borrower, the individuals and companies involved in the transaction and the mortgage deal.
Close to the transaction date, they will impersonate a real estate agent, escrow agent, title company representative, a lawyer or lender who is involved in the transaction and issue new wire transfer transactions.
The homebuyer will then wire funds for a down payment or closing costs to the impersonator’s account. It may take several days before the homebuyer discovers the scheme and realizes the money is lost.
Individuals involved with this scheme take steps to have their communications appear legitimate. First, they may access the real estate agent’s or other accounts through phishing or hacking.
Next, they will monitor accounts and search for home sales that are closing soon. Social media accounts may be examined for anyone purchasing a home.
After a home purchaser is found, the individual behind the scheme will send instruction instructions for wiring funds to an account they control. They will typically transmit a reason for transmitting the funds and the need to act quickly.
These messages often appear identical to messages in the transaction that were going back and forth over several weeks. The email address may be similar, and signatures and company logos may be close duplicates of the ones contained in earlier communications.
These fraudulent messages may also contain valid documents from a compromised email account. Email address similar to other individuals involved in the transaction may also be listed in the cc area.
Call spoofing can be part of the scheme. Fraudulent calls may appear as coming from another number.
The FBI and Texas law enforcement may investigate these offenses. Because these involve finances and the Internet, their investigations may be disruptive, extensive and costly. Attorneys can assist defendants with protecting their rights.