Fraudulent email directly to a buyer or lender, can look like it was sent by the seller, real estate agent, mortgage broker, or escrow agent. The fraudulent emails direct the buyer and/or lender to wire funds to a different bank account controlled by the hacker, not the seller, title company or the escrow holder. The money is immediately withdrawn and, due to the amounts involved and the complex nature of investigating and prosecuting wire fraud, the odds are authorities will do nothing to help.
In a world where high profile companies like Target, Sony, and the Defense Department get hacked, don’t assume that sellers, Real Estate agents, escrow companies, and clients have a higher level of security.
Yyou can use two-factor authentication and encrypted emails if you are planning to authorize a transfer of money but a practical, non-technical idea was put out by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “Buyers and sellers should confirm all email wiring instructions directly with the escrow officer by calling the escrow officer on the telephone. In that conversation, the correct account number information should be repeated verbally before taking any steps to have the funds transferred.”
Certainly, if wiring instructions are changed via email, the buyer should confirm that by phone with the escrow officer and the buyer’s real estate agent. For details on the problem and full explanation about money disappearing view the article “Hackers Perpetrate Wire Transfer Fraud In Real Estate Transactions” in the Real Estate section here.