Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp is issuing an alert to the members of the Morris County Bar Association regarding a Real Estate Closing Scheme – involving e-mailed wiring instructions for banking transactions. Because of the sophistication of the scheme, the large dollar amounts involved in each intrusion and the impact this scheme could have on victims, Prosecutor Knapp asks that extra vigilance and precautions be used in all real estate transactions.
The scheme involves a cyber hack into an attorney’s e-mail account and may be the work of an organized overseas group that is recently targeting lawyers, realtors and/or title agencies. Shortly before the closing takes place, hackers pose as a participant in the transaction and initiate instructions for a fraudulent funds transfer. This is done by changing the wiring instructions, or by cancelling requests for certified funds and requesting wired funds to an account they control. The false wiring instructions direct the funds to an account in a financial institution where the hacker can immediately re-transfer the money to an untraceable overseas account.