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Since 2016 a staggering $26 billion has been stolen through wire fraud. Probably the number one target for these schemes are real estate attorneys and their clients.

The typical wire-fraud scenario involves a criminal either hacking into an attorney’s email or creating an email similar to the one used by the attorney and then sending a request to the client asking that funds to be wire. The wire instructions, of course, are not to the attorney’s escrow account, but to the criminal’s bank account.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim to such a scheme is to always verify wire instructions before sending money. To verify instructions speak directly to your attorney or his paralegal either over the phone or, preferably, in person and have them confirm the account information.

Also, beware of the following red flags: sudden changes in an attorney’s wire instructions, a change in your attorney’s email address, an urgent request that funds be wired immediately, and vague or overly-professional introductions such as “Dear Sir/Madam”.

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