Home > Hoping against the odds - UPDATE - and its good news!

Hoping against the odds - UPDATE - and its good news!

December 21st, 2018 at 04:54 pm

Update! I am still in disbelief, but the funds were all returned to my DS and DIL this afternoon and have been submitted to the title co. The house will close on Christmas Eve. I have no words for how relieved I am. Thank you for all the kind words of encouragement!!

My DS and DIL fell victims to a horrible scam this week. They were closing on a house purchase and received an email with the wire instructions... the email was spoofed to look legitimate and just like that, the kids are at high risk of losing $35k.

I say at risk of, because thankfully (if there is a thankfully in this situation) DIL sent the receipt of the wire to the legit email at the title company and they called her right away. The receiving bank, Wells Fargo, was notified and they are investigating. Unfortunately, they can't (won't) tell us anything. So the kids are in a very sickening limbo as the closing time on their house ticks closer to the deadline.

I knew this type if scam happened, I just had no idea how organized it was and how prevalent it has become.

It is a billion dollar industry that has grown 2200% over the last 2-3 years. This makes me sick. Why isn't more done to protect innocent people????? The title company told them to expect an email with instructions. WTH- if this happens so much, WHY IS THIS STILL A PROCESS??? I guarantee if the title companies were liable for that money, something would be done.

My DS and DIL worked diligently the past 4 years to rebuild their credit and save this down payment. They looked for the right house for almost a year. And two days before closing, their hard work and dreams may likely vanish.

UGH. If you or anyone you know is buying a house, PLEASE make sure you are aware of this scam and how it works. It is VERY organized - the timing of the emails, the spoofing of the emails, everything makes an unsuspecting purchaser believe it is legit. Don't fall victim - it is a gut-wrenching experience.

Hoping, praying and keeping my fingers crossed this was caught in time... Even if the kids don't get this house, if they can just get their money back and be financially whole again, this momma will be so thankful.

16 Responses to “Hoping against the odds - UPDATE - and its good news!”

  1. Petunia 100 Says:

    The author of another blog I read had this happen to her son last year. It is suspicious that these scammers know the email addresses of people on the verge of closing on a real estate purchase, and the name of the title company being used. Just how are they getting the information?

    I hope the scammy transaction is returned by Wells Fargo.

  2. debtfreeme Says:

    Sounds like an inside thing if they knew to send it with the right timing - who else knew to send the email instructions?

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    I just heard about this with a vlogger on YouTube. I pray that your son and daughter in law get their money back and could still potentially close, but just a tad late.

    I'd want the wiring instructions handed to me knowing this. Do we not do cashier's checks anymore?

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    This sounds terrible! But I have to wonder, as debtfreeme said, how someone would know to send an email like that at just the time you are actually closing on a home? Unless they just mass email to thousands of people and hope that among those, at least a few will be received by people who are actually home shopping.

  5. Smallsteps Says:

    It sounds like someone along the way must have access to names/ email and what title group they are using.

    I guess I am just old school but every house I have purchased I did IN person I have gone to title company office and last one came to the new home and met me here. That is a lot of money to trust any wire transfer.

  6. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Hi All-

    Just to answer some of the questions:

    Wired funds are very common for closing an escrow. It is the preferred method of the title companies actually.

    I have learned since Monday that this is a very common, growing scam. The bad guys hack into unsecured email accounts or have an insider (likely at the title or real estate co) and monitor for upcoming closings and access the personal data to make contact with the buyers. THey also spoof the email so that communication and wire instructions appear legit. You can google this type of scam and see that it happens A LOT. It is very organized and sophisticated- why we dont change the wire laws and/or title process is something I am still frustrated about.

    Thank you for your support - as I mentioned in my update, this story, unlike the majority, had a happy ending!

  7. AnotherReader Says:

    Banks are on to this and usually require a hold period before releasing the funds for this very reason. Cashier's checks are another big source of fraud.

    Title companies hold workshops for their employees about how to avoid fraudulent wire transfer requests and receipts, but it still happens. I sold a property in 2017 and some unwary title company employee wired my proceeds to a fraudster based on an e-mailed change of the destination bank and account number. I was on the phone the next morning when the funds were not received and they assured me the funds were wired and to wait. I finally got to the title officer a few hours later, and she said they were wired per my revised instructions. Before she even finished, she asked if I had changed the instructions and I said no. She hung up, got the file, and started the process of retrieving the funds from the receiving bank.

    Despite the warnings and verification procedures, an employee had paid no attention and accepted changed instructions without verification. It was now late Friday afternoon, and I had a very unpleasant weekend waiting for this to be resolved, despite their assurances that I would get the money. They fedexed a replacement check Monday morning and it was received Tuesday morning and deposited 20 minutes later. I don't know if they got their money back, but title companies would not be in business if they did not uphold their escrow responsibilities so I got my money.

    This was an out of state escrow, but next time I am involved in such a transaction, I will fly in and stay long enough to sign, close and get my check.

  8. LuckyRobin Says:

    Glad that they got their money back. That would have been horrifying.

  9. Creditcardfree Says:

    Yay! Such good news.

  10. mumof2 Says:

    that is awesome news so happy for them

  11. Ho!mebody Says:

    Omgosh how nerve-wracking. So glad it ended well!

  12. Laura S. Says:

    So happy to hear this had a happy ending!

  13. MonkeyMama Says:

    I've heard about this. It sounds like about the most awful thing ever. When I think back to when we bought our first home and how much money that down payment was to us. UGH! But the Christmas-time blow makes it even more of a double whammy. I am so glad that it worked out. When I read your post initially I thought that they caught it right away sounded promising. Phew!

  14. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I'm so glad this had a happy ending!

  15. rob62521 Says:

    That is just scary! Hope everything works out well.

  16. crazyliblady Says:

    I am so happy the funds were returned. I think these kind of thieves watch social media big time and use that as their source of who to strike. Have they also reported it to the police and state's attorney general?

    When I bought my house eight years ago, I was told to simply show up at closing with a check.

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