See how our Escrow Officer, Mario Artiga saved his client from being scammed in an email. Disaster Averted! Watch the video below to see what happened when an email got hacked.
Communication is pretty much 80% through email nowadays. Certainly the clients or the real estate agents will call us if their question is a little more complicated or does not lend itself to be fully expressed through an email, but most of the time, questions and paperwork are transmitted through that medium.
With the exception of a few documents for which we require original signatures, everything else can be scanned and sent to us.
The common use of email leaves all of us susceptible to hackers stealing our email identity. In a real estate transaction, this can have serious consequences as email and wire fraud comes into play.
Many real estate agents use a common public server to host their emails – yahoo, gmail, aol, etc.
This practice has led to concerns that because hackers target those who use emails from these public servers, therefore the real estate agent has become the weakest link in the equation.
This is very clearly illustrated in a case that my Escrow Assistant – Mario Artiga – came up against.
On one of our transactions Mario received the Seller’s signed paperwork and instructions for delivery of proceeds via an email from the agent.
Shortly thereafter Mario received another instruction from this same agent to change the instructions for delivery of proceeds.
A red flag immediately came up even though the email address for both emails were exactly the same as the one we had on file.
Concerned, Mario immediately called the agent who assured him that the second email did not originate from him.
Mario then had to inform him that his email had been hacked and it was further possible that the hacker had been monitoring the agent’s email for a while, waiting for the right time.
If we had not questioned this odd timing we might have accepted the changed instructions and the Seller’s proceeds might have been sent to the hacker’s account at closing.
It was such a relief that this attempt at email fraud was caught immediately.
Thanks, Mario. Phew! Disaster averted!
All in a day’s work at Viva Escrow!