Real estate fraud nets $598,000
NAR email scam
The National Association of Realtors issued an alert last August about an uptick in email money scams, in which criminals monitor email during a transaction and request a money wire transfer at the end. For more info, read Transaction scams on the rise.
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Feb. 1, 2016 – According to a Fernandina Beach police report, a real estate attorney wired nearly $600,000 to a fraudulent account on Jan. 14, after receiving an email she believed was from the seller.
The report states that the attorney provided closing services for a client who had sold his house, closing the transaction at her office around noon Jan. 13. She provided the client with a check for $598,288, which was the amount of the net proceeds of the sale.
Several hours later the attorney received an email from someone claiming to be the client, asking her to wire the money to a corporate account. In her answer to the email, she explained she would need to stop payment on the check she had provided to the client earlier, and requested the information she would need to wire the money.
The attorney subsequently stopped payment on the check and on Jan. 14 transferred the funds by wire to the account provided in the email.
On Jan. 20, the real estate client reportedly informed the attorney he had not received the proceeds from the transaction.
When the attorney told the client she had wired the funds to an account he requested, he told her he had never asked for the check to be stopped or that funds be wired to another account.
The attorney contacted police to investigate, and the case was forwarded to the investigations bureau, according to the report.
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