Hackers Target Real Estate Deals, With Devastating Impact
“A report by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said the number of victims of email fraud involving real estate transactions rose 1,110 percent between 2015 to 2017 and losses rose nearly 2,200 percent. Nearly 10,000 people reported being victims of this kind of fraud in 2017 with losses over $56 million, the FBI report said. The problem is growing as hackers take advantage of lax security in the chain of businesses involved in real estate and a potential for a large payoff.” ‘In these cases, the fraudster knows all of the particulars of the transaction, things that are completely confidential, things they should not know,’ stated a lawyer that has worked on dozens of such cases. These cases are often a mix of hacking and social engineering as hackers “sometimes known more about the [real estate] business than the employees do…consumers may also be less cautious when they are feeling positive about a new home, making it easy to fall prey to scammers,” according to one security firm. Many of the hackers are based in Russia and Africa, and employ complex money movement techniques to prevent tracking and enforcement by U.S. officials.