Friday, July 31, 2015

"Man In The Email" Racket Now Targeting Real Estate, Title Agents? Hackers Break Into Email Accounts, ID Homebuyers In Pending Deals, Then Dupe Them Into Wiring Money To Scammer-Controlled Accounts

From the Office of the Monroe County, Pennsylvania District Attorney:
  • The Monroe County Office of the District Attorney is warning citizens of a scam targeting homebuyers with pending purchases in Monroe County.

    In this scam, dubbed the “Man in the Email” scam(1) by the FBI, unwitting buyers are duped into wiring the closing costs and down payment to an out-of-state bank account when they receive closing instructions from their realtor or title company.

    In reality, the email was sent by someone who had hacked into the email account of the realtor or title agent, and the instructions are bogus – directing the homebuyer to wire the funds to a bank account under the control of the scammers.

    These hackers start by identify the email accounts of real estate agents, brokers, or title company agents and then gain unauthorized access into those accounts. Once they have access to those accounts, they can view all of the sent and received emails, including those referencing pending real estate deals. The hackers pull out details specific to the transaction, such as the buyer’s and seller’s names, the title company involved, and the property information, and then use that information to pose as the realtor or title agent.

    The scammers then send an email to the buyer, or title company holding the funds, instructing them to wire the funds to an out-of-state bank account. What makes this scam so hard for buyers to recognize is that the scammers send this email from the real email account of the realtor or title company so buyers have no reason to doubt its legitimacy.

    The bank account that the funds are wired to is a real bank account that has been compromised by the scammers. The owner of that account may have no idea that their account is being used to “middle man” this scam. As soon as the funds arrive in that account, they are transferred to another bank account under control of the scammers, which is often outside the U.S. The funds are then quickly withdrawn.

    The buyer doesn’t learn of the fraud until they speak with their agent and discover that the email containing the wire transfer instructions wasn’t legitimate. And by then, it’s usually too late.

    Within the past several weeks, there have been two confirmed instances of buyers in Monroe County being targeted in this scam – one in Stroudsburg and one in Mount Pocono. In one instance, investigators have confirmed that the fraudulent communications originated in South Africa.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home