IMPORTANT NOTICE TO PROSPECTIVE HOMEBUYERS AND TENANTS REGARDING FRAUDULENT BANK WIRING INSTRUCTION SCHEMES
Recently, there have been increased reports across the nation of a theft scheme that involves hackers stealing email addresses and sending fraudulent wiring instructions to homebuyers and tenants. REALTORS®, lawyers, title agents and buyers could be affected. The criminal scheme has many variations and this notice is not intended to describe each situation. As an actual or prospective buyer or tenant, we want to alert you to the situation so that you can minimize the risk that you could be a victim.
We strongly recommend that before you wire any funds to any party (including your own lawyer, real estate broker or title agent whom you know to be involved in your transaction) that you personally call them to verify the wire instructions (you should confirm the ABA routing number or SWIFT code and the credit account number). You should call them at a number that you have obtained on your own (e.g., the sales contract, their website, etc.) and should not use the phone number that is contained in any email - even if the email appears to be from someone you know. A common aspect of the scheme involves the criminal hacking the sender's email (unbeknownst to them) and sending you an email that looks like other legitimate emails you have received from that party. The email contains the criminal's wire instructions and may contain the criminal's phone number and once your funds are wired by your bank to the criminal's account there may be no way to recover those funds.
PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION BEFORE WIRING FUNDS TO ANY PARTY
This Important Notice is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.
Here are some tips to help you avoid such scams:
• KNOW THE PERSON YOU ARE SENDING MONEY TO - you receive an email from moneycastle with payment instructions, call the requesting office using the phone number located in our Office Search.
• CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions or provide escrow services.
• USE CAUTION WHEN GIVING OUT FINANCIAL AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION VIA EMAIL (bank account number, credit card number, social security number, etc.)
• AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
• These types of scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before withdrawing your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
• PROPERTY/APARTMENT LISTING MAY BE LOCAL, but landlord/owner is "travelling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money to them abroad.
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
• Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country.
• Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee."
• Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consummating transaction.
Who should you notify about fraud or scam attempts?
• FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
• FTC online complaint form (www.ftc.gov)
• Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)
• Non-emergency number for your local police department.
• The government agency in your country responsible for dealing with fraud