SCAM ALERT: This one email could wipe out a home buyer’s life savings


A fast-spreading email and money wiring scam is targeting home buyers, according to a warning from the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors.

Read more: Do you read the fine print? You could be signing away your child

Scammers may be after your mortgage closing costs 

Hackers are breaking into the email accounts of home buyers and real estate agents to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions, like settlements. After snooping the email account, the hacker sends a phony email to the buyer, pretending to be the real estate professional or someone with the title company.  

According to the FTC, the email from the hacker says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to another account. 

If the buyer follows the instructions, the money goes to an overseas account that belongs to the scammer, and the victim’s bank account could be cleaned out in a matter of minutes. And sadly, there’s no way to ever recover the money.

The bottom line

If you’re buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, take the extra step to pick up the phone and call the person who sent you the email to make sure it’s legitimate. 

The FTC also provided these tips to avoid phishing scams:

  • Don’t email financial information. It’s not secure.
  • If you’re giving your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the ‘s’ stands for secure). And, instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL and type in the web address yourself.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and security software up to date.

And if you’ve received a suspicious email like this one, follow this link to report it to the FTC.

Read more: The 10 most common phone scams right now

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