Beware: Real Estate Scam

This past week we had a closing, woohoo, usually a good thing. It was a very straight forward deal with a cash buyer and a good seller. All was on track and had been very smooth from the beginning. The day before the closing, the seller’s attorney sent us wire transfer instructions for our overage check. We followed the instructions and continued communicating to have the seller come in to sign closing documents. All of this happened as it would in any deal.

Until…. The morning of the closing, the buyer said the overage was not supposed to be wired. We explained that we had clear instructions from her attorney. She insisted this was not what her attorney was telling her. At this time, we received another e-mail from the attorney apologizing that she had inadvertently sent us the wrong wire transfer instructions. She said she had contacted the group that was receiving it and told them to reject it. It would bounce back and then we could proceed with the new instructions.

At this point I worried that the attorney was not honest with her client about the mistake. I told my assistant to make sure and continue e-mailing so we had proof of the communication.

About an hour later things were still not sorted out. The wire had not bounced back and I was starting to wonder just what was going on. My assistant could not find the number for the group that had received the wire, but the attorney in the e-mail said they had spoken. I told her to call the attorney and get the number for this 3rd party. When she spoke with the attorney she said that she had not given those instructions and seemed to be completely confused by our conversation. At this time I realized that either the attorney had dementia or we were the victim of fraud. It became clear the second was the case. When my assistant checked the e-mail address it was off by one letter. We had communicated all day with these people who had obviously hacked into my e-mail, because they knew everything about the deal and were able to carry on very insightful conversations about what was going on.

We have since heard so many stories just like this. It is scary to think how easily someone can get into your e-mail and redirect money. We still don’t know exactly how they got in, but I understand that people posing as Zillow leads get you to click on a link and can gain access to your account.

Be aware and if anyone gives you wire transfer instructions. Call the person giving the instructions. We have to be vigilant against this kind of crime! Ashley Cusack is an associate with EWM Realtors. She is a 2015 Who’s Who in Miami Residential Real Estate, Member of The Council of Residential Specialists, Member of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Ashley is passionate about fitness. She is a long distance runner, and coaches girls lacrosse. She volunteers at St Thomas Episcopal Church, and serves on the Junior League of Miami Foundation Board; Beaux Arts. You can find her at, 305.798.8685, or

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