Information on just about every subject is today readily available online. Because data about Chicago real estate listings and sales are now publicly available, experts say that we have entered a golden age of mortgage fraud.
Real estate experts say that because real estate listing services spread information about a home within hours of it being placed on the market, people around the nation – and even around the world – have access to detailed data. When the property’s status changes to pending sale, a window is open for outsiders to commit wire fraud, a real estate publication reports.
The flow of digital information makes fraud easier to commit because participants in real estate transactions often rarely meet each other face-to-face. So communications can be entirely over the phone and in emails.
The type of fraud known as business email compromise (BEC) is trending upward. It’s often carried out by spoofing legitimate email addresses that belong to a CFO or other crucial figure in a company. The address is used to send official-looking messages and documents urging fund transfers as soon as possible.
In the case of a real estate BEC, that can mean instructions to wire closing costs to a bank account controlled by the perpetrators of the fraud.
This type of fraud is not limited to real estate, of course. Victims range from small businesses to medium and large corporations and not-for-profit organizations. The common denominator, experts say, is that the businesses routinely make use of wire transfers.
Unfortunately, because of the complexities of both legitimate business transactions and alleged fraud, sometimes people are accused of criminal acts they had no knowledge or participation in.
If you face wire fraud allegations, speak to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer experienced in white collar defense before talking to an investigator or prosecutor.