The Florida Bar continues to receive multiple reports of fraudulent activity relating to wired funds in real estate transactions. One way to protect against this fraud is for the lawyer to initiate the phone call to confirm the emailed wiring instructions, calling only the number in the client file even if a different number is provided via email.
Please be vigilant when communicating over email and consider whether your firm’s wiring procedures are strong enough to detect and prevent these fraud attempts.
Additionally, some lawyers are adding language to the bottom of their emails to warn clients of potential wire fraud and steps to take in the event they suspect an attempt to commit wire fraud. Examples of this wording can be found below:
WIRE FRAUD ALERT. If you receive an e-mail from this office requesting that you wire or otherwise transfer funds, you must confirm the request and any corresponding instructions by telephone with this office before you initiate any transfer. E-mail accounts of attorneys, other professionals and businesses are being targeted by hackers in an attempt to initiate fraudulent wire requests.
WARNING! WIRE FRAUD ADVISORY: Wire fraud and email hacking/phishing attacks are on the increase! If you have an escrow or closing transaction with us and you receive an email containing Wire Transfer Instructions, DO NOT RESPOND TO THE EMAIL! Instead, call your escrow officer/closer immediately, using previously known contact information and NOT information provided in the email, to verify the information prior to sending funds.
VIEWS AND CONCLUSIONS EXPRESSED IN ARTICLES HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHORS AND NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF FLORIDA BAR STAFF, OFFICIALS, OR BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FLORIDA BAR.