Cybercrime is posing a risk to an increasing number of real estate transactions, with home buyers’ down payment funds the main target of scammers. Anthony Lamacchia, broker-owner of Lamacchia Realty in Waltham, Mass., wrote a recent article for Boston.com warning consumers to beware about the scam.
Criminals are targeting home buyers by sending them emails that look like they might come from their real estate agent or attorney. The emails may contain signatures, fonts, and logos that are identical to the originals. The email then usually claims the plans for submitting the down payment have changed and provides new instructions to wire funds to an account. However, if buyers follow those new instructions, they often lose their funds forever.
“Although e-mail and other technologies are making every-day transactions — such as buying one’s first home — far more convenient and faster, weaknesses exploited by hackers are resulting in it being much more difficult to keep personal information secure. One of the most common weaknesses is the consumer’s reliance on the technology and willingness to trust it. Whether it is a significant amount or a small amount, it is always vital that consumers verify the source of e-mails, calls, and text messages prior to sending personal information or funds to the sender.”