3 stats that show we need to keep talking about wire fraud

For years, wire fraud has been a thorn in the side of everyone involved in real estate. Despite continued efforts and conversation, it remains a formidable enemy. Plus, the scammers behind it continue to evolve and exploit any weakness they can. 

Why are we repeating this warning now? A new report from a leading anti-fraud company, CertifID, shed light on how this menace continues to grow, revealing the deep impact of wire fraud on many of today’s unsuspecting buyers, sellers and the professionals who serve them. For its 2024 State of Wire Fraud Report, CertifID gathered information from 650 regular people who bought a home in the last three years. The findings, which once again reinforce the urgent need for action in fighting these cybercriminals, show what the public knows – and doesn’t know – about fraud. Among the results: 

  • Ten percent of people surveyed said they believe they were targeted by a fraudster. 
  • Less than half (49%) of people said they were very aware of the threat of wire fraud before their closing, and 16% of respondents said they weren’t aware at all.
  • About a quarter of homebuyers said they received no materials on this topic from their real estate agent or title company. 

Here’s the main takeaway: A large chunk of buyers and sellers are stepping into real estate deals blind to the dangers of wire fraud. This lack of awareness is a ticking time bomb, making our clients easy prey for scammers skilled in deception and manipulation. In fact, it’s a $446 million problem. That’s how much the real estate sector lost to these scammers in 2022, according to FBI data.

As much as we think we discuss wire fraud, the message isn’t getting through to the right people – our buyers and sellers. So, let’s shout it from the rooftops. Cybercriminals are regularly targeting real estate transactions, and we all need to be vigilant. We may think we’re doing all we can when it comes to robust client education and transparent communication, but more can always be done. 

Key strategies for real estate professionals

  1. Keep talking about this issue: All real estate professionals simply must take the lead in enlightening their clients about wire fraud. If you think your messages aren’t getting through, have the conversation again. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 
  2. Adopt and advocate for secure practices: In a world where technology offers both conveniences and vulnerabilities, everyone involved in a transaction must make sure they’re using secure, verified processes for every transaction. This includes multi-factor authentication on all password-protected accounts (especially email) and rigorous checks for identity verification and bank details.
  3. Build a security-minded community: The fight against wire fraud isn’t a solo mission, and REALTORS®, loan officers and, yes, title professionals must work together, sharing their insights, strategies and successes. The real estate community can forge a united front against wire fraud by collaborating with trusted technology partners and security experts, making every transaction safer and more secure for everyone involved. Speaking of sharing insights, these cybercriminals are really leaning into seller impersonation schemes right now, so if that threat isn’t top-of-mind, it should be.

The road to defeating wire fraud is fraught with challenges, but it’s a battle our customers are counting on us to help them win. Remember, if something seems off, it probably is. Reach out to our teams anytime you need us!

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