The function of an escrow company could be summed up as “preventing chaos in your transaction”. When you’re working with escrow, you know that you’re working with a professional whose job it is to protect you. It’s true that some transactions will go smoothly with or without escrow. The problem is you don’t know which ones they are.

Beware Wire Fraud Schemes

December of 2017 in Spokane WA, an escrow agent smelled something ripe about a transaction and saved more than $355,000 from falling into the wrong hands. After a couple who was selling one home and buying another left her office, an email arrived asking to wire the scheduled disbursement to a different account. The email knew all the right information, but arrived unnaturally soon after her clients left the office. The escrow officer did not change the transaction, instead she prevented the theft, like the escrow fraud hero that she is (at least to that couple).

Overly Complicated Transactions

In Portland OR, an escrow officer became suspicious after an initial earnest deposit was lost  due to a failed wire transfer of over a million dollars for a multimillion dollar piece of real estate. Other excuses came up too. Then the buyer refused to prove his identity. She became sufficiently suspicious to call the police and the transaction was cancelled, with the fraudulent buyer arrested. Although the seller of the property didn’t sell that day, they did dodge a terrible mess that could have become a terrible legal battle if they had signed papers and not received payment.

Online Escrow Fraud Risks

This story doesn’t end as well as the others. This time there was no escrow officer, just realtors, a bank, and a title company. And the thief got the money. James and Candace Butcher sold one home, planning to use the $272,000 proceeds as a down payment on their dream home. Unfortunately, their email server of their title company had been hacked and a fishing scheme tricked them. Their life savings was wired to the wrong place, and efforts to stop the transfer failed.

The biggest topics is fraudulent transactions today are wire fraud, check fraud, identity fraud and email fraud. A quality escrow officer is your first and wisest defense against these escrow fraud threats. Your officer will know how to prevent, identify, and report fraud. So you don’t go through with a compromised transaction.