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: Darkreading.com
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:
- Hackers steal $90,000 from Lawrence dentist in growing real estate fraud scheme
- Couple out $130K in real estate money wire scam
- Home buyers and sellers beware! Cybercriminals are targeting closing funds
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.