COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — When it comes to real estate, buying or selling a home requires moving a lot of money, a process that can, unfortunately, attract scammers.
“Wire fraud is real. It can happen. There are clients that can lose $10,000, up to $500,000,” said District Sales Manager for Corcoran Global Living Spencer Barker.
Barker told Better Call 4 it’s a scheme that’s easy to fall victim to in this digital day and age.
“Ninety-nine percent of communication in real estate today is through email,” said Barker. “People get a call from their agent, ‘We got to close on this day. You got to have the wire.’ They’re going to send you an email. If you, as the consumer, are not watching, there could be a slip-up.”
He stressed that details can make or break a deal.
“Hackers are very good at covering their tracks, and with the way technology is today, they can make an email address look like it’s a real email address, when in fact, it’s not,” Barker said.
But Barker added that there are a few ways for buyers and sellers to protect their information and their money.
“When you receive an email, if you have any doubt, call your agent,” he said.
The same goes for the title company you’re working with.
“If you get an email, you’re not 100 percent certain it’s from them, just call and confirm,” Barker said.
Whether you’re buying or selling, make sure your money ends up in the right place.
“If you’re expecting a wire transfer and you don’t receive it, call your financial institution,” he said. “Because the longer it goes, the worse it gets.”
Barker said scammers are constantly watching the housing market, ready to pounce when a real estate agent changes a listing from “For Sale” to “In Contract” to “Contingent.” So, if you’re in the market, stay alert.
If you do become a victim, Barker said to file a report with police and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.