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6.15.2022 / Fraud Education

Six Tips To Avoid Mortgage Wire Fraud

Over the past five years, wire fraud incidents have increased dramatically. These scams are used to divert funds for closing costs and mortgage payoffs.

Scenarios of these crimes usually involve criminals hacking into the email account of a title company, realtor, or individual involved in the transaction. After monitoring the emails going back and forth, the hacker sends false wire instructions to divert funds for deposits, closing costs, and even mortgage payoff funds from the intended recipient. A scammer who runs a mortgage wire fraud uses an email address or phone number that looks like the one your real estate agent or lender uses. The emails and texts can look very authentic.


Let’s look at the example of Peter. He’s excited to be buying a lake home. As explained by his mortgage lender, he received wire instructions from the closer at the title company to wire the closing funds. Shortly after he received the wire instructions, the title company sent a new email titled “Urgent: New Wire Instructions for Your Closing.” The email contained new wire instructions and an urgent message stating that if he did not act quickly, he could lose out on purchasing the lake home. Peter hurriedly wired the funds the as instructed. The next day at closing, the title company told him that his closing funds were not received even though his bank confirmed that the wire was sent. The email containing the revised instructions was a scam.


  1. Identify two trusted individuals to confirm the closing process and payment instructions. Before your mortgage closing, discuss in person, or by phone, the closing process and money transfer protocols with these trusted individuals (realtor, settlement agent, etc.). Be cautious about exchanging any details about your closing over email. You may want to use this opportunity to also create a code phrase, known only by these trusted parties, in case you need a secure way to confirm their identities in the future.

  2. Write down their names and contact information. Make sure to list these individuals and their primary phone numbers.

  3. Before wiring money, always take time to confirm the instructions with your trusted representatives. Never follow instructions contained in an email. Verify the closing instructions, including the account name and number, with your trusted representatives either in person or by using the phone number you previously agreed to.

  4. Avoid using phone numbers or links listed in an email. Again, scammers can closely replicate the email address and phone number of your contacts. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments without first confirming with your trusted representatives.

  5. Do NOT email financial information. You should never trust email to be a secure way to send financial information.

  6. Be mindful of phone conversations. Scammers may call and ask you to verify your personal or financial information. When in doubt, always refer back to your trusted professionals and the special code phrase you established to confirm whether it’s legitimate.

Buying or selling a home can be a very stressful experience. Remember to slow down and trust your gut if something does not feel right. Taking your time to think through the process and requests and establishing safe communication channels with the parties involved in the transaction, can lessen the chances of falling victim to wire fraud.


  • Contact your financial institution that initiated the wire immediately and request for the wire to be recalled.

  • Report the fraud to your local police department and file an official complaint with the FBI using the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Reporting the wire fraud incident as soon as possible to the FBI and your financial institution can increase the likelihood of your closing funds being recovered.

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