Washington, D.C., April 4, 2017 — The American Land Title
Association (ALTA), the national trade association of the land title
insurance industry, in a letter urged the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to issue an alert warning consumers about
wire fraud schemes attempting to steal funds for real estate closings.
“Despite efforts by the title industry and others to educate
consumers about the risk, homebuyers continue to be targeted,” said Michelle
Korsmo, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “With the spring homebuying season
underway, it’s vital to continue raising awareness about these schemes. The
CFPB should take this opportunity to protect consumers from criminals looking
to steal their money.”
The alert should provide tips to on how to consumers can
protect themselves and questions to ask to help determine if real estate
professionals have procedures in place to protect their money. ALTA has
educated its members over the past few years about these wire fraud schemes,
but the best defense is to inform consumers about the danger.
“Unfortunately, these criminals frequently target homebuyers
prior to the title company getting involved in the transaction,” Korsmo said.
“In many instances, they obtain access to unsecure email accounts used by
consumers or real estate professionals. They use this access to find
transaction patterns and details to make their fraudulent communications seem
legitimate. The criminals will instruct the buyers to send the funds to a
different account and the money vanishes in minutes.”