Cyber Crime and Real Estate

Technological advances have certainly made many aspects of our job easier, but along with them come certain risks. Cybercriminals have found creative ways to infiltrate the world of real estate, often costing their victims hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In a public service announcement released July 12, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported that the real estate industry has become especially susceptible to business email compromises (BECs) and email account compromises (EACs). Source:

Type “Cyber crimes and Real Estate” into your favorite internet search engine and you’ll find many examples of criminal activity targeting Real Estate Agents and their clients.

Here are just a few of my search results:

Learn how to protect yourself and your clients with Real Estate Training Institutes 3-hour online Risk Management continuing education course.
This state-approved online video and text course will help agents prepare for the risks of doing business by helping to identify threats such as cybercrime, identity theft, and internet liability as well as anti-trust laws and OSHA regulations relevant to the real estate industry.

Here is just a snippet of the Cyber Crime chapter from this course.

Criminals are hacking into the email accounts of real estate agents or other persons involved in a real estate transaction and using information gained from the hack to dupe a party into a fraudulent wire transfer. The hackers often send an email that appears to be from an individual legitimately involved in the transaction, informing the recipient, often the buyer, that there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions.  Following the new instructions, the recipient will wire funds directly to the hacker’s account, which will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is almost always lost forever.

The National Association of REALTORS® urges its members and state and local REALTOR® associations to be on high alert for email and online fraud. In May 2015, NAR issued an alert regarding a sophisticated email wire fraud hitting the real estate industry. Since then, the incidents of online scams targeting practitioners have continued to rise, but the advice is the same. Bottom line: Do not let your guard down! Start from the assumption that any email in your inbox could be a targeted attack from a criminal.

The course goes on to outline methods that you can use to help prevent such attacks upon you and your clients. To order this course and receive continuing education credits for license renewal visit Real Estate Training Institute and choose your state. You’ll find a list of state-approved courses available for credit as well as license renewal deadlines and information listed on your state page. Risk Management is also available as a professional development option for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge base.

Listings and Technological Ethics for Florida Sales Agents and Brokers

Listings and Technological Ethics is the focus of a 3-hour course created by instructor Steve Carvelli.

The first part of the course, Listings, will outline types of listings; how to match type to a clients’ needs and expectations, and how to effectively price the commission and/or fee for the listing. This course will also look at marketing strategies that generate listings, how to measure their effectiveness relative to the overall market; and most importantly, how the conduct of our business in this technology-laden environment relates to listing generation and marketing.

The second chapter, Technology, and Ethics will discuss the conduct of brokers, agents, and all practitioners of real estate. We will look at changes in conduct caused by technology, and how the ethical considerations for such conduct have been affected, or perhaps not affected. We will look at the ethical issues that persist in our practice over time, the new ones that are evolving, and the new emerging issues that will populate our future.

After completing the course in its entirety, you will be able to:

  1. To provide real estate licensees the tools and resources to enhance their listing literacy and better apply and adapt the contractual types to client need and expectations.
  2. To review and strengthen the ethical framework that a licensee should utilize when soliciting and taking listings.
  3. To develop and even expand a licensee’s knowledge of the ethical considerations that arise with the growing use of technology in the real estate industry.

Florida Real Estate Sales Associates and Brokers, are required to complete 14 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their license including 3-hours of Florida Core Law and 3-hours of Ethics and Business Practices.  If you are a member of NAR, you are required to complete a Code of Ethics course before 12/31 in order to renew your membership.