STAY AWARE: Wire fraud of all kinds should remain a concern during COVID-19

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 2:49pm

Placer Title Company continues to work hard to ensure California real estate transactions are completed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We are doing all we can to ensure customer and employee health and safety during this time, and we thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation. However, there is another danger that is still lurking in the world of real estate – yes, we’re talking about wire fraud.  

RELATED: Almost as soon as COVID-19 started affecting everyday life, email scammers were trying to capitalize.  

Our team has pushed for awareness on this issue for years now and written multiple blog posts on the issue during the last few years. We’ve also talked to a lot of you directly and continue to invest in tools that help us protect you and your customers.

However, the problem continues to grow nationwide. FBI figures released earlier this year showed that about $221 million was reported lost to such scammers during 2019. That’s up from $150 million lost the prior year. Placer Title, our parent Mother Lode Holding Company, and the entire title industry is doing what we can to be the partner our Realtors, lenders and customers need to keep them protected, but we also need your help. 

You should be talking to all your customers about wire fraud and reminding them to stay vigilant. Please reach out to us directly if you’d like more resources on prevention.

We’ll leave you with these tips from real estate attorney Harvey Jacobs who talked about how dangerous wire fraud was in a January Washington Post column. His tips for real estate professionals to remember themselves -- and pass on to their customers – included: 

  • Never call the phone number included in a suspicious email. Have them only use previously disclosed numbers or ones listed on a trusted website when asking questions or confirming wiring instructions.
  • Start a new email thread each time they message someone involved in the transaction, especially when communicating about finances.