By now, you are familiar with wire instruction scams which are sweeping across North Carolina and the country. Lawyers Mutual, the State Bar and numerous others have issued alerts detailing the scams and best practices to avoid falling victim.
Since our latest alert, we have received multiple reports of fraudulent wiring instructions being delivered to cash purchasers or buyers providing a significant down payments on real estate purchases. Like other versions of these scams, a hacker will gain access to the email account to a party in the transaction - potentially the client themselves, the closing attorney or most frequently, a realtor. The account is monitored, potentially for months, and near the closing date of a large transaction, fraudulent instructions are sent to the buyer attached to an email purporting to be from the closing attorney.
We know of over $2.5 million in wires which were diverted from the trust accounts of North Carolina attorneys, and the frequency of this version of the scam appears to be increasing.
IF YOU ARE CONDUCTING TRANSACTIONS IN WHICH A BUYER IS PROVIDING FUNDS FOR A PURCHASE, YOU NEED TO TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY TO EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS ABOUT PROPER SECURITY AND VERIFICATION PROCEDURES. IN EVERY REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION, YOU SHOULD FOLLOW THE PROCEDURES PROVIDED IN THIS LINK OR DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION.