First American warns of new Cyber Scam

We just got this alert from our underwriter, First American Title Insurance Co., this morning:

The agent receives an email from a “buyer” purporting to have property under contract and wants the agent to facilitate the closing – often a cash deal or large earnest money deposit from an “out of town” buyer. When the agent agrees, the fraudulent buyer sends funds in the form of a wire or check along with purchase and sale agreement.

The agent might even know or confirm that the property really is listed for sale – and it is.  The amount for the contract even looks right given the list price/value. After a few days, the buyer says the deal fell through and asks for the money back saying, “a wire would be best.”

The check or wire has either not cleared yet, or even if it has, it is still within the period for which payment can be stopped or reversed.  Either way, the agent ends up having paid out good funds, but has no good funds paid in.