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[Video] Washington D.C. couple loses $1.5 million in mortgage closing cost phishing scam

Hackers pose as title company

A couple buying a home in Washington D.C. lost $1.5 million after a hacker pretended to be a title company and falsely convinced them to wire the money to an account they owned, according to an article in Fox 5 D.C. by Evan Lambert.

The article stated that the couple is suing Federal Title and Escrow Company and is seeking their money back plus additional damages since May when the money was stolen.

From the article:

The lawsuit alleges that the title company was negligent in its cyber security, which led to the hack.

According to the lawsuit, the couple, who are both government employees, made an initial deposit to the company for a home in the Cleveland Park neighborhood after getting instructions from the company by email. That deposit went through. A second email came from the same trusted worker asking the buyers to wire the rest of the money to another account.

Unfortunately, this type of scam isn’t new. The growing prevalence was enough to spur Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. to ask the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors to warn consumers.

Back in June, the FTC and NAR provided a few tips on the matter:

“If you’re buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, STOP,” the FTC and NAR say. “Email is not a secure way to send financial information.”

Instead, the FTC and NAR say that buyers should do the following:

  • Contact the company through a number or email address you know is real. Don’t use phone numbers or links in the email.
  • Don’t open email attachments, even from someone you know, unless you’re expecting it. Opening attachments can put malware on your computer.

And if you suspect that you’ve already sent money to a scammer, the FTC and NAR advise you to act quickly, and take the following steps:

  • If you wired money through your bank, ask them right away for a wire recall. If you used a money transfer company, like Western Union or MoneyGram, call their complaint lines immediately.
  • Report your experience to the FTC and to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Report as soon as you can and give as much information as you can. If your bank asks for a police report, give them a copy of your report to ic3.gov.

Check out the full news report from Fox 5 D.C. below.

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