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Fraud and buying homes

Pennsylvania residents who are looking to purchase a home may be interested to learn that the FBI reported that there was $150 million lost due to real estate fraud in 2018, with 11,000 people in the United States becoming victims of scams. The majority of the loss occurred because an email was infiltrated or too much data was publicly available, giving scammers the opportunity to take advantage of their victims during a stressful and expensive situation in their lives.

Attackers are able to gain valuable information from the compromised emails of real estate agents, attorneys and title agents. This information can include important details regarding an imminent home transaction. The information they can gain can be used to generate similar-looking emails that are used to engage the prospective homebuyer. With these communications, the attackers are able to get the homebuyer to use fraudulent wiring information that allows the attackers to steal down payments and closing costs.

In order to prevent themselves from becoming victims of scams, there are some indicators of which homebuyers should be aware. One important indicator is that an inquiry is made regarding when the wire payment be sent; scammers typically want to have the money processed as quickly as they can in order to avoid being caught.

It is also important that emails and online transactions are properly protected. Two-factor authentication should be in place, and buyers, sellers, real estate agents and lenders should all be using strong passwords.

An attorney who practices real estate law may guide clients through the home-buying process. The attorney may work to protect the interests and rights of clients during negotiations of selling price and contract terms and may work to ensure that all transactions are secure. The attorney may also work to resolve disputes regarding title issues and zoning laws.

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