According to a report published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2017, there were 21,887 cases of wire fraud reported in Florida that year. This didn't just pose a threat to parties to residential real estate transactions. Research shows that fraudsters are targeting commercial buyers and sellers at an alarming rate too.
A title insurance industry analyst suggests that the uptick in fraud stems from there being larger amounts of money at stake in the commercial real estate industry than in the residential one.
The way that the criminals involved in the fraud unleash their fraudulent schemes is by tricking buyers or titling agents into transferring the closing fees into their own accounts.
They're often successful in doing this because the fraudster calls in and says that they're an executive officer aligned with the seller and provides their own banking information. They may also send a spoof email with wire instructions for making a deposit into their account.
Real estate analysts argue that there are some steps that commercial buyers and sellers alike can take to protect themselves from being taken advantage of. They note that it's always best to communicate with their attorney, broker or escrow officer by phone. If that's not possible, then they point out that it's important to only reach out to them at the number listed on their business card.
If email interaction is critical, then it's important that both parties verify that the email address being used matches what's listed on the business card. If it doesn't, then it's best to call and let your closing agent know.
You should always be leery of any late changes to wiring instructions and double check the information with your closing agent before making any final financial transactions. When you make a transfer, you'll want to follow up with your escrow company, attorney or titling agent right away to make sure that it was received.
There are many reasons that you should choose a lawyer instead of a title company to close on any Melbourne real estate. One reason is that they're licensed and regulated by the Florida Bar. They also have the legal expertise that you need to analyze and draft documents, so you can wrap up a deal. An attorney can advise you of other reasons why you should allow them to handle your real estate transactions.