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Scam threatens home buyers

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Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-26 20:23:03-04
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - We have a consumer alert about a new scam that could cost you big money.
 
You're about to lay down some serious money for a new house when scam artists hack into your real estate agent's e-mail and trick you into transferring thousands of dollars into the scamster's account.
 
You've finally found the perfect house and you're eager to seal the deal. Then an email comes in.
 
Change of plans regarding payment. Your agent says to transfer money to a different account than the one you expected. You do. Thousands of your dollars vanish. 
 
That wasn't your agent. A computer criminal hit you with a new, high dollar scam.
 
Rosey Koberlein, CEO of Long Realty says thieves may send e-mails able to infect an agent's e-mail with spyware and learn when you're about to pay.
 
"...That's when they'll interject and then send an email directly to the consumer that says here's what you need to do.  You need to wire this amount to this bank account and you'll be ready to close."
      
She says tight security and educating her agents and clients made sure the scam did not hit Long Realty, but she wants to warn anyone the scam could reel in, in the excitement of buying a house.
 
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked her:  “Isn't there, the buyer's got a little bit of a fever?  I want this house, I want to close this deal?”
 
Koberlein: “Absolutely, Absolutely, because there's that sense of emotion and sense of urgency and sense of 'I want to do it right because I don't want anything to get messed up because this is what I've been trying to do for ever and ever.'"
       
Koberlein says a legitimate e-mail about payment will come from an escrow officer, not your realtor.  A faker may use a bogus e-mail address hard to notice because it's different by just one letter or dot.
 
“I would pick up the phone and call that escrow officer to say I just got this e-mail.  Is this really for sure, let's verify the amounts."
    
And when your house may be the biggest purchase you'll ever make, it's worth a little extra trouble to avoid a big loss.