Earlier this year I attended a class on fraud schemes affecting the real estate industry. It made me and the other attendees realize the need for vigilance is becoming more and more critical. One scenario they presented involves a third party monitoring email streams to get specific data about a real estate transaction. Then at the last minute they send bogus instructions to the home buyer to wire their purchase funds to a different bank account than was originally planned, claiming that the original wiring destination is having a problem. Once the funds are sent to the bogus account, the thieves often have teams of people at cash machines pulling the money out as fast as possible. To guard against this scam, it is important for a participant in a real estate transaction to always confirm any change in funding information with a phone call to the other party. Email isnít sufficient since, if a fraud is under way, the email could be hijacked and the bogus destination confirmed by a fraudster posing as the person you are trying to communicate with.
Smaller scale internet fraud can happen in our day-to-day lives too, and we often feel it is too small to expect law enforcement organizations to follow up. However, one of the speakers at the class was an FBI agent. He introduced us to an FBI web site where one can report cyber crime. The intent of the site is to gather information about a wide array incidents so that the FBI can identify patterns that may allow them to apprehend suspects or at least put them out of business. The web site lists the type of information they need about the incident for the FBI to be able to act on it. The web site is: