Continued Vigilance Against SF Real Estate Wire Fraud

The number of real estate wire fraud cases has increased, wherein realistic-looking but fraudulent title company documents fool home buyers and brokerages into sending very large amounts of deposit escrow money to overseas con artists. The money once transferred is gone with no chance of recovery. There is also no insurance coverage for these significant losses.

Despite warnings and alerts within the San Francisco real estate community these incidents are continuing and obviously the scam artists are increasing their activity in the hopes of catching more home buyers and real estate agents unawares.

Several prominent real estate agencies in the city are now strongly encouraging that all deposits into escrow be made by cashier’s check.

Here is a list of best practices to follow:

1) Insist that your clients use cashier’s checks.  Yes it is inconvenient, but it is fraud proof.

2) NEVER forward wire instructions from the title company to your client.

3) If you client insists on doing a wire transfer, make sure that they understand that they need to contact the escrow officer to confirm the proper wire instructions (in person or via a confirmed phone number). They can confirm the numbers and names themselves on the title companies website.  The client needs to confirm this on their own.  Do not follow-up for them!