The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has warned of a growing number of e-mail fraud schemes, in which criminals deceive consumers and financial institutions into conducting wire transfers.

NEVER send a wire based on an email you receive. STOP and VERIFY the information.

If you receive email instructions to wire money…

STOP – Do not respond to the email

VERIFY – Contact your Settlement Agent (usually an attorney, title company or escrow company) to confirm the instructions. Do not use the phone number or email address in the email you received, it could be a criminal impersonating the Settlement Agent. If you don’t know the Settlement Agent’s contact information, use the internet or phone book to look up the phone number.

REPORT – If you receive a suspicious email, report it immediately to your Loan Officer or Real Estate Agent.

Criminals first unlawfully access a victim’s e-mail account through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques. Criminals subsequently exploit the victim’s e-mail account to obtain information on the victim’s financial institutions, account details, contacts, and related information.

Criminals then use the victim’s stolen information to e-mail fraudulent wire transfer instructions to the customer in a manner appearing to be from the Financial Institution, Real Estate Agent or Settlement Agent.

Criminals trick the victim’s or financial institution into conducting wire transfers that appear legitimate but are, in fact, unauthorized. The fraudulent transaction instructions direct the wire transfers to the criminals’ domestic or foreign bank accounts.