Wire fraud is on the rise everywhere and the Federal Reserve is being asked to take a more proactive role in preventing it, especially as it relates to real estate transactions. Two key points are:
1. All parties involved in the real estate transaction need to help educate customers on the dangers of wire fraud and on the ways to protect data and funds. For example, by encouraging consumers to call their known reputable source at a verified number to verify instructions before transmitting funds.
2. Financial institutions on the receiving end should match not only the account number but also the payee’s name when there is a wire transfer. Oftentimes fraudulent wire instructions will say the transfer is to be sent to the attorney’s trust account, for example, but instead it goes to the criminal’s personal account as beneficiary.
If you intend to wire funds to us and suspect anything may be wrong with the instructions, please phone us to verify. If we have sent you instructions and you suddenly receive an email asking you to wire to a different account, phone us to verify. We have only (1) IOLTA account, so we will never change our instructions and ask you to wire to a different account.
Clients have begun to inquire about transferring firearms in their estate planning. Unique rules and procedures apply to certain firearms – such as NFA firearms, even in estate planning. Limited liability companies (LLC’s) were once the preferred method, but LLC’s require annual maintenance fees to the state and even separate tax returns. Now, “gun trusts” that are prepared as part of an estate plan can be used to pass on the trust creator’s firearms after their death. Prepared separate from a conventional revocable trust, a gun trust may provide access to more people than the original owner, may provide for changes in the law over time, and may require trustees that are more likely to be knowledgeable of firearms and the legal requirements that surround them. A gun trust will not pass on other assets, only the guns, and a separate conventional trust is still needed for other assets. Using a gun trust can provide for the legal, safe transfer of NFA firearms and even keep those weapons in trust for several generations.
Written by J. Kirk Trombley, Esq.
Just as soon as one type of wire scam is uncovered it seems like a new one pops up. One of the latest versions involves the perpetrator sending the funding lender wiring instructions to a legitimate account belonging to an innocent, unknowing title company. In verifying the account number, the lender will see that the funds are being wired to a legitimate title entity.
Once the wire has gone through, the scammer contacts the unknowing title company and states that the funds were sent in error. The scammer gives the title company instructions for sending the funds back, but those instructions are fraudulent and the funds will be sent to the scammer. The title company then confirms that it was not entitled to the funds and sends them back using the account information that it has received from the scammer.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you receive wired funds in error, the wire should be rejected. In doing so, the funds will automatically go back to the original sender.
Everyone needs to be vigilant in dealing with wire transfers, verifying information by directly contacting the other parties through secure channels and being skeptical when instructions are changed at the last minute or appear out of the ordinary.
In a money wiring scam, a dishonest person lies and tricks you into wiring money to them.
The scammer might say:you won a prize, or inherited money, but you have to pay fees first;
- you won the lottery, but you have to pay some taxes first;
- a friend or family member is in trouble and needs you to send money;
- you need to pay for something you just bought online before they send it;
- you got a check for too much money and you need to send back the extra.
These are all tricks. If you wire money, the scammer will keep it and you will not get your money back.
Wiring money is like sending cash. If someone you do not know asks you to wire money it is probably a scam. Scammers are clever and they try to make things look real. They are good at fooling people and they also want to rush you. They want your money before you have time to think, but before you do anything, stop and check.
If you have already wired money to someone who contacted you…that money is probably gone. Remember, if you gave money to a scammer once, you will probably be targeted again . The best thing you can do to help yourself and others is to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission.
While most people utilize spam filters and use antivirus software, spam and phishing emails can still slip through it and into your inbox. An Email recipient is the most critical element in preventing an attack. The following are some tips on how to identify the authenticity of a questionable email.
Incorrect Grammar/Spelling/Text Body
Many phishing email contain misspellings because some of these messages have been poorly translated from other languages., Additionally, you will want to pay attention if the time or date appears in the message body of an email. If the email contains the date format of DD/MM/YY or 24-hour time it is likely that the email’s point of origin was outside of the United States.
Email Format/Absence of Logos/Plain Text Email
Most legitimate messages will be written with HTML and should be a mix of text and images. A poorly constructed phishing email may show an absence of images, including the lack of the company’s logo. If the body of an email is only an image as text, it’s possible that it is not legitimate. While Outlook blocks showing images by default, if the email is all plain text and looks different than what you’re used to seeing from a frequent sender, you may want to contact the sender directly in a new email or phone call.
Urgent Request for Personal Information
One tactic that is commonly used by hackers is to alert you that you must provide and/or update your personal information about an account (e.g., Social Security number, bank account details, account password). Phishers will use this tactic to drive urgency for someone to click on a malicious URL or download an attachment in an attempt to infect the user’s computer or to steal their information.
High-risk attachments file types include: .exe, .scr, .zip, .com and .bat. Most spam filters will generally do a good job of quarantining those format. Most companies companies commonly send and receive .zip, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, .pptx and .pdf. However, a malicious sender can implant devious code in those formats as well. Once you open the attachment your computer is already compromised. Be cautious if you have sent an email that has an attachment and the sender is questionable. You should verify the legitimacy of the email first and then examine the context of why the attachment is being sent.
Links in the Email
A common practice is to avoid blindly clicking on links in an emails. Outlook allows you to hover over a link before clicking on it. If the link in the body of the email is different than what Outlook hovered preview reports, it is not legitimate. Even if it seems legitimate, open a new browser window and type the URL directly into the address bar. If you’ve clicked on a link, a phishing website will look identical to the original, however, your system may already be compromised.
It was recently reported in a posting on foxnews.com that as of 2016 the five top most commonly used passwords on the Internet and therefore the worst to use from a security standpoint are:
Unfortunately people are still using these passwords because they are easy to remember. Some industry experts recommend using no fewer than 9 characters, with at least one number, a symbol and an upper case character and no sequential patterns. The thought is that 6 characters takes possibly seconds to break, but 9 or more non-sequenced characters makes it more difficult so hackers may move on. Changing your passwords regularly is also key. Some cyber security measures start with the simplest of items, strong passwords being one of them.
Trombley Kfoury are proud to be a Sponsor for the Camp Allen Charity Golf Tournament. Here’s our Sponsor Hole with Chris Masters from Rowley Insurance sizing up the green. We had a great time at the Manchester Country Club.