There’s a new email scam targeting people buying homes.
It’s been seen nationwide and even here in Boise. Only one case has been reported in the Treasure Valley so far, and Boise Valley Realtors want to prevent any more.
"It could be the difference of them not being able to buy their first home. It could be a life-changing event that could be devastating," said President-elect of Boise Regional Realtors Katrina Wehr.
The way this scam works is a hacker accesses an email account that belongs to a buyer, realtor, tile representative or mortgage lender. The hacker monitors the communications and learns information about the purchase and then makes their move.
"Right before it goes to close an email kind of pops up to the buyer saying 'Hey, actually wiring instructions have changed. Here's the new link or here's the new account number,’ and it's tied to a fraudulent account," said Breanna Vanstrom, Boise Regional Realtors chief executive officer.
She said then the buyer assumes they’re talking to the agent or lender, they wire the money to the scammer’s account and the money is gone.
"Often times it's the down payment they're trying to get access to, closing costs, things like that,” Vanstrom said.
There are steps that can be taken to be protected from this. The first thing is to be able to recognize the scam.
"If you know you're supposed to bring a check to a closing and then you get an email asking you to wire the funds, that's certainly a red flag right there,” Vanstrom said. "If something changes in the instructions of what your agent or title company told you to do before closing and it just comes across as an email, that's definitely a red flag.”
Another way to avoid getting scammed is communicating with your realtor. Vanstrom said to call your realtor directly.
“Don't call the phone number that was maybe provided in the email,” she said. “Call the independent number that you know you've been communicating with outside of that."