$25,000 EMD lost in Wire Fraud

5 Replies

I’m a realtor and investor in the Orlando area. We put a 5 unit property under contract, did our inspection and requested the wire instructions. The listing broker sent me the wire info for the title company (which I should have called the title company directly). It was an international wire and the funds never showed up in the escrow account. Our bank said it can sometimes take up to 10 days to show up. After the 10 days there was still nothing in escrow but it had left our account. After sending the wire instructions to the title company to verify they were correct, they told me to call my bank ASAP and report it because it wasn’t their wiring info. The listing broker also called me in shock and said our 10 days of email traffic hadn’t been him and someone had hacked his account. The bank is doing an investigation but I don’t know what else to do. I have a feeling I’ll never see the money again. Is the listing broker responsible if his account was hacked? Should the listing brokerage have insurance for things like this that they can make a claim on? Any other ideas??

The first red flag should have been an international wire transfer. Since you waited 10 days, it’s likely out of the country and there isn’t much you can do, as far as getting the original money back.

Maybe someone offers to make you whole but besides that or litigation there’s not much you can do

No the listing broker is not liable. You are a Realtor and should be well versed in wire fraud.  Unfortunately, this is on you.  Email accounts are spoofed all the time, and fake wiring instructions sent.  As an agent you should know that you should always call the title company to verify wiring instructions, and you should know that wiring instructions never ever come from agents or brokers.  I probably receive 10 emails a week with fake wiring instructions.

Joshua Lyon : Not clear from your statement whether you knew ahead of time that this was an international wire transfer.

This FDIC page may be a good start on what your protections are and what to do now in that case:

https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnsum13/sending-money-abroad.html

In any case, you should file a “complaint” with the FTC and request a cancellation of the transfer from the banking institution on your end (this will not get your money back, but it’s a step you need to take.)

There was a lawsuit brought up by First American Title against a real estate agent who allegedly failed to secure his email account. I don’t know where that lawsuit stands - could have been dismissed.

@Joshua Lyon   I would personally do the following:

1.  Print out EVERY single email correspondence regarding this transaction, both received and sent, immediately so you have a hard copy.  

2.  Document all conversations you've had with all involved parties immediately.

3.  Print out all bank/wire related documents that are available.

4.  Contact a local attorney who specializes in this specific area to see what your rights are.

5.  Do not discuss this issue further in a public domain until the issue is fully resolved one way or another.  Everything written here is now "discoverable" and available for any parties involved.  

I am NOT saying you have a case or don't have a case, or that this will net you any revenue whatsoever.  I am simply stating what I would do if I were in your exact situation.  Good luck.  

This happened to a fellow Realtor in my brokerage recently. She brought in the FBI, and between them and the lender (SOO above and beyond their scope!!) and the title company, the fraud was traced and all $67,000 was recovered. Make the call!