WIRE TRANSFER SCAMS
Wire transfers are a quick and efficient way to transfer money between accounts, without exchanging physical cash. Though it is considered a secure way of sending money, wire transfers have become the target of scammers. This is because wire transfers are immediate, irreversible, and it is nearly impossible to identify who pocketed the money. The best protection against wire transfer fraud is recognizing the signs of a potential scam. As your true financial partner, Pathways is committed to providing you with information on financial wellness and education, and that includes keeping you and your private information safe. Our goal is to make you aware of potential wire transfer scams and give you the necessary resources to avoid becoming a victim!
Real Estate Wire Scam:
Purchasing a home can be a stressful time and homebuyers are often a target for wire fraud. During a real estate wire scam, the fraudster hacks into the email account of an agent involved in the home buying process. When the sale is nearly closed, and it is time for the buyer to wire money, the fraudster poses as the agent and requests that money be wired to a different bank account. According to Andy White, CEO of ClosingLock, these emails are not typical spoofed emails that have spelling errors. The emails are coming from a legitimate breached email account (Yale, 2021).
Before you wire money for the purchase of a home, verify with your lender that the amount being wired is correct. Be sure to call your lender directly to verify wire transfer instructions. If you receive an email or a phone call asking you to make urgent last-minute changes to the wire transfer do not proceed without contacting your lender directly and verifying that the information is correct.
Tech Support Scam:
Tech support scams are on the rise and are often difficult to spot. A tech support scammer will tell you there is something critically wrong with your digital device, and it needs to be fixed. They will offer their services as a solution and often request to remote into your computer or mobile device. Once given access to your computer, the scammer might pretend they overcharged you for their services and tell you they are sending you a refund. They may ask you to email a voided check, or have you log in to your online banking. At this point, the scammer will assure you they are sending you a refund when instead, they are transferring money out of your account into theirs.
To avoid being the victim of a tech support scam do not allow anyone to have remote access to your computer or mobile device. If you believe one of your digital devices has been accessed by a scammer, immediately take your computer or phone to a reputable company to have it scrubbed for malware.
Do not call phone numbers received in emails, pop-up advertisements, and voicemails. If you need to contact a company directly, look for the customer service number on the company’s main website.
Regularly review your account transaction history for signs of fraud which could include making transfers from your savings account or Home Equity Line of Credit. If someone asks you to wire funds to them, contact your financial institution, provide the representative with details of this situation, and discuss whether it is safe to proceed with this transaction.
Online Shopping Scams:
Online shopping scams are very common and easy to fall for. Scammers create fake online stores and advertise their products in social media advertisements. These products are often heavily discounted, might come with a warranty or other guarantee. Scammers typically require payment through specific payment apps, or they may request that you wire the money to them. Once a purchase has been made you will not receive the product and the funds are not able to be recovered.
Be wary of unfamiliar shopping websites and instead do your online shopping with reputable online retailers only. If you come across a new shopping website, be sure to research the website thoroughly before making a purchase. If possible, use a credit card instead of a payment app to make online purchases. Remember if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Other Wire Transfer Scams:
There are many other types of wire transfer scams where the scammer offers an opportunity if you act quickly and wire funds. One example is a Foreign Business scam where you are offered an opportunity to invest in a business opportunity in another country. When it is time to wire funds, these scammers urge you to keep the details of this investment opportunity a secret, especially to your financial institution.
Another type of scam is a Family Emergency scam where scammers will contact you or a family member and explain that there has been a serious emergency and they need you to wire money right away. Scammers often search through social media profiles to get personal information and the names of relatives to make the scam seem more valid. They may say that your grandchild is going in for surgery and needs money to pay for the operation or that your sister is stranded in another state and needs money to get home. Scammers do their research to ensure the type of emergency would seem believable to their victims.
Romance scams often begin on social media where people meet and exchange messages. As the relationship becomes more serious, your new love interest expresses how much they want to come to visit, and they need you to wire money for travel expenses. They may also request money for other bills and living expenses all while professing their love for you.
If you have encountered one of these wire transfer scams, contact Pathways immediately. Our Member Service Representatives can walk you through these potentially fraudulent situations and offer advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of wire transfer fraud.
For more information on wire transfer safety tips, follow this link to visit the FTC Consumer Information website.