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Mortgage Wire Fraud: How to Protect Yourself

Nicole Reed | December 15, 2022

Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase any person will make in their lifetime, so approaching this transaction with the utmost prudence is extremely important. While it’s not a new scam, mortgage wire fraud is becoming more and more prevalent and can leave many people with completely drained savings and little to no recourse for recapturing those funds.

Continue reading for information on what a mortgage wire fraud scam is and how you can protect yourself from losing your closing funds at the consummation of your home purchase. At the end of the article, you will find resources and tips if you find yourself a victim of wire fraud.

What is Mortgage Wire Fraud in a Real Estate Transaction?

The basic concept of wire fraud is where a hacker poses as a trusted individual providing you with incorrect wire instructions, thus sending your funds to a fraudulent account. In a real estate transaction, the hacker could pose as your real estate agent, mortgage lender, or escrow agent using a “phishing” scheme and then contacts you with a fake email, phone number, or website.

The scammer first phishes the emails of the trusted individual for your personal information. Phishing sends an email with a dangerous link or asking the recipient to reply back with personal information. Once phished, the hacker has access to your sensitive information on the trusted individual’s computer.

He or she will then send an email from an address that looks similar to the one your agent uses (eg. vs This is called “spoofing” and these emails can look very official, containing information you would expect only that person to have. On a cursory glance, the email address appears to be the same one with which you’ve communicated previously.

The end goal of a mortgage wire fraud scam is to provide you with fraudulent wire instructions so that you send all of your closing funds straight to their account. Once a wire transfer is sent to the fraudulent account, it’s nearly impossible to recover the funds.

This isn’t just happening on purchases! A hacker could also phish or spoof your title company or mortgage lender on a refinance to provide falsified payoff statements, and the funds from your closing could go to a fraudulent account, then leaving you with two mortgages for which you are responsible. Uptown Mortgage and many title companies have many systems in place to ensure the security of your information and do everything possible to eliminate the threat of this type of spoof.

How Can I Avoid Wire Fraud?

First, discuss the closing process and expectations with your real estate agent, escrow agent, and mortgage lender. In the majority of real estate transactions, the wire instructions will be provided by the title/escrow company via secure email. While your real estate agent and lender might have access to these instructions, we advise against using wire instructions provided by any party other than the title/escrow company.

Our suggestion to our borrowers is to only trust wire instructions you’ve received from the escrow company, and only trust they are correct AFTER you’ve called the escrow company’s verified number to confirm the account numbers verbally.

The scammers love to use “Last Minute” and “Urgent Change” in their spoof emails in order to incite panic a few days before closing. If you receive an email with urgent, changed wire instructions, consider this a red flag and immediately call the title company to validate. It’s always appropriate to reach out to your mortgage professional or realtor with questions if something doesn’t feel right.

Second, maintain a list of the contact for all parties in the transaction. Many times, this will be included as an addendum to your real estate contract or can be provided to you by the title company. The CFPB offers a Closing Checklist for homebuyers that you can also use to collect and store this information. It is important to keep this checklist private to prevent the information from being phished.

Use the verified contact information on your contact list, or validate the contact information with a 3rd party source on the internet. You could even visit the title company in person for extra protection. Never use the contact information in an email you receive or reply to the sender if you suspect that an email is fraudulent.

Finally, do not share personal information or financial information via phone or email. It is highly unlikely that any party will call you to confirm your personal information over the phone. You should hang up immediately, and call a trusted individual (on their verified number) to the transaction to confirm if that information is needed. The same will go for email communication. Due to the sensitive nature of the mortgage and homebuying process, all of the parties who are trusted with your personal information will have a secure way of communicating via email or secure electronic portal.

What Can I Do if I Have Become a Victim of Mortgage Wire Fraud?

1 – Immediately contact your bank. Seconds and minutes matter when dealing with mortgage fraud. Request that the bank or wire-initiating entity issue a wire recall immediately. This is the only chance of getting your funds back, but requires immediate action.

2 – File a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Regardless if you were able to recapture your funds or not, submit as much information as possible, and the FBI might be able to help you.

The Long and The Short Is…

Hackers are using techniques like spoofing and phishing to lure you into wiring funds to a fraudulent account – and it’s happening at an increasingly rapid pace. Victims of mortgage wire fraud were cheated out of $213 million dollars in 2020 according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2020.

Exercise extreme vigilance and caution during your homebuying process. Confirm any wire instructions in person or with a verified phone number. Do not be swayed by “urgent” or “last minute” changes sent via email – always verify any changes with your escrow agent. Avoid sharing personal or financial information via email or over the phone (when someone calls you). You can verify the wire instructions with your escrow agent an infinite number of times before you wire the funds. Everyone in the transaction – your real estate agent, mortgage lender, and escrow agent – is there to protect and support you. Take the information we’ve given you and protect yourself and your closing funds on your next transaction.

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