The North Carolina State Bar recently learned of another instance in which hackers diverted funds from a real estate transaction. In this instance, criminals hacked into a real estate broker’s computer database to gather information about an impending closing, including the names of the closing lawyer and the seller. Immediately before the closing, the hackers sent an email to the lawyer instructing the lawyer to wire the seller’s proceeds to a bank account other than the one originally identified. That email came from an address that looked like the broker’s email address but a single character had been changed. The lawyer wired the seller’s proceeds, more than $272,000.00, to the criminals’ account. By the time the lawyer learned of this crime, the criminals had wired the funds to a foreign bank account.
The Real Estate Commission urges brokers to instruct the closing lawyer in each transaction not to disburse the seller’s proceeds other than as specifically authorized in a document signed by the seller.