Cyber thieves now pray on persons and businesses that send and receive money via wire transfers. Typically the thieves hack into the files of one or more of the parties to the transaction and when alerted to the scheduling of the closing send false wire instructions to the paying party, hoping that the funds will be wired to the false account for immediate withdrawal before the parties realize the theft of the funds at the closing.
Some of the red flags that can alert you to this type of cyber theft include:
- Not knowing all of the parties to or involved in the transaction.
- New payment or disbursement instructions immediately before closing.
- Disbursement instructions that arrive from a new e-mail address.
- Initiation of e-mail communications late in the transaction.
- Requests to release funds early or before confirmation of receipt into accounts.
- A party is a foreign person or entity located outside of the United States.
- Receipt of new deal terms or drafts immediately before closing.
- Last minute changes to the method of disbursement.
- Increased urgency for disbursement.
- Poor grammar, punctuation or unusual phrasing of disbursement requests.
- Disbursement e-mails arriving at early hours or other unusual aspects, like new introductions.
- Parties using a free web-based e-mail service such as Yahoo, AOL or Gmail.
- Wire instructions to or from entities outside of the United States.
- Wire instructions to brokerage, trading or other unusual accounts.
- Variation in e-mail headers, domain names or addresses.
- Late changes of known e-mail addresses.
In light of the rise in cyber theft of wire transfers, we recommend that you triple check all wire instructions, by e-mail and fax from known parties and by telephone confirmation. Should you have any concerns regarding these situations or suffer a loss as a result of diversion of a wire transfer, please contact us.
Douglas C Tibble