In the process of buying, selling, or refinancing your home? BEWARE! Wire fraud is on the rise in Connecticut!

There are some recent wire transfer scams occurring that the State of Connecticut is encouraging everyone to be aware of. The Connecticut Department of Banking states that it has recently received complaints concerning wire transfer scams, which centered on scammers attempting to redirect mortgage and payroll funds into fraudulent accounts. This means either you or your lender may be a target for this type of scam.

For example, according to the Federal Trade Commission, it appears scammers have hacked the e-mail accounts of real estate professionals (lenders, attorneys, realtors) to discover details regarding real estate transactions and closing dates. As the dates approach, these hackers e-mail the mortgage company posing as the attorney for the buyer requesting they wire the money for the closing to a different account. This turns out to be a scam and the money is sent to the fraudulent account.

Banking Commissioner Jorge L. Perez wants to ensure that financial institutions in Connecticut – which includes banks, credit unions and mortgage companies – are fully aware of this fraudulent scheme in order to protect themselves and prevent this from happening to them. At Floman DePaola, we feel that it is also important for the consumers to be aware that they can also be directly targeted and affected by this type of scam.

Take the following precautions when conducting wire transfers:
• If you are wiring funds and receive a change in wire transfer instructions via e-mail, always verify the source, and always make sure the person you are sending the money to is legitimate.

• Be skeptical of last minute changes regarding the wire transfer. Place a call directly to the person you had been working with regarding the transfer of funds. Most, if not all, attorneys do not change their wire instructions often, and will not do so right before your closing. This type of change should ALWAYS be verified by speaking with your attorney directly. Call the office number that you have been using from the beginning. The scammer may give you a different number or email address that may seem valid.

• Always ensure your security software is up to date.

Report suspected scams immediately to the Department of Banking Consumer Affairs Division, at 860.240.8170 or toll-free, at 1.800.831.7225.