It has been reported in the press that the computer system of the U. S. National Security
Agency has been hacked.  If the NSA can be hacked, then every computer system of any
organization is at risk.  Unfortunately, there are those who hack into email systems of title companies
and real estate brokers across the country which have resulted in large losses to unsuspecting
customers.

Despite the best efforts of real estate brokers everywhere to protect their email systems,
these systems have all proven vulnerable to attack.  Ebby Halliday Real Estate, Inc., d/b/a Ebby
Halliday, Realtors, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, Williams Trew Real Estate is using the latest
technology to try to protect against fraud committed by those criminal elements who see easy prey in
clients who are in the process of purchasing or selling a home.  The scam usually works by a
fraudster hacking into a title company or real estate broker email system to locate communications
that identify a transaction ready to close.  The fraudster then creates a bogus email to the client
giving instructions how to wire transfer funds for the closing.  The email may appear to be a
legitimate email communication from the title company or real estate agent without any hint the
funds will be wired to an account controlled by the fraudster and not the title company.  Once the
wire transfer is complete, the funds are then immediately wired again to another account, usually in
a foreign country.  Once that is done, there is little hope of ever reversing the wire and stopping the
fraud.

In order for a buyer to protect against this cyber fraud, do the following:

  • Never provide personal information to your real estate agent.  This information includes the client's social security number, driver's license number, credit card information, date of birth, or bank account information.
  • Never wire transfer funds to a bank account for an Ebby Halliday Real Estate, Inc. / Ebby Halliday, Realtors agent. There is never a reason why a real estate agent needs possession of funds from a client.
  • Never wire transfer funds to a title company pursuant to an email without first contacting the title company by telephone to speak with the closing officer or escrow assistant.  Do not call the title company at the number on the possibly bogus email, but instead use the telephone number found on the title company receipt which is generally the last page of the contract of sale.  If you cannot find the telephone number apart from the email, then contact your real estate agent for the correct telephone number.
  • Always be suspicious of any email requesting the wire transfer of money.
  • Be aware that no email system can be fully protected against fraudsters, including the email system of Ebby Halliday Real Estate, Inc.
  • Always be smart and alert, never forgetting there are many people across the globe finding ingenious ways to induce you to act in a manner that puts your money in their pocket.