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Michigan real estate officials warn of phishing scam that cost one buyer $25,000

BAY CITY, MI-- Michigan real estate officials are warning home buyers and sellers of a nasty scam that has already milked $25,000 from a buyer in Midland. The scam starts with an innocent email to Realtors saying they have a buyer interested in some ...

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BAY CITY, MI -- Michigan real estate officials are warning home buyers and sellers of a nasty scam that has already milked $25,000 from a buyer in Midland. The scam starts with an innocent email to Realtors saying they have a buyer interested in some propertiesWhen the Realtor clicks the link, it gives the scammer an opportunity to hack their email accountsFrom there, they seek information about upcoming transactions and then pose as a title company, asking the buyer to wire in their closing costsInstead of going to the title company, the money, most of the time, ends up somewhere overseas. "This is a very sophisticated groupThey know what they're doing," said Gordon Hall, a Realtor with Remax of Midland"I saw copies of all the emails and they looked very legitimate, they include all the right lingo of real estate -- one of the emails included the right name of the home inspector." The Midland County Realtor Association filed a report with the Midland Police Department on Wednesday, April 22But at this point, Hall said, the money is gonePolice officials linked emails being routed through an IP address in South Africa, Hall said. The buyer was not able to purchase the home, the sellers lost a sale and the selling office lost a closing. It's not unusual to wire money when closing on a house today, but buyers need to be cautious, said Jennifer Stefanski, an escrow officer at Superior Title and Settlement in Bangor Township. "It's very common, actually," she said"What's happening is they hack into the emails we send to Realtors and manipulate the routing and account numbers, but everything else looks exactly like how we would send it." Bob Adamowski, president and chief executive officer of the Bay County Realtor Association, said some area Realtors have had similar phishing scams, but thankfully no one has taken the bait. "We're being very proactive about communicating with our agents to let them know of these scams," Adamowski said. Before buyers transfer any money, he recommends they contact their agent by phone -- not through email -- to confirm the correct account and routing numbersHe's also asking his 175 agent members to frequently change their email passwordsThe scammers are targeting Gmail accounts, he said. window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'alternating-thumbnails-a', container: 'taboola-below-article-thumbnails', placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix' }); if (pb_page_template == undefined) { var pb_page_template = 'article'; } if (pb_page_template != "index") { document.write('); } Find Local Homes for Sale Apartments Car Dealers Used Cars Jobs Businesses Find a job Buy or sell a car Find a place to live See what's for sale Find a business View obituaries Connect with MLive Subscribe to our newsletters Like us on Facebook Subscribe on YouTube Most Read Active Discussions if (pb_page_template == "index") { document.write('); } else { document.write('); } /* */ resimg.resimf(); About Us MLive Media Group Our Team Advertise Frequently Asked Questions Contact Us Jobs at MLive Subscriptions Newspaper | Digital Editions | eNewsletters The Ann Arbor News The Bay City Times The Flint Journal The Grand Rapids Press Jackson Citizen Patriot Kalamazoo Gazette Muskegon Chronicle The Saginaw News MLive Sections News Business Sports High School Sports Entertainment Living Opinion Obituaries Jobs Autos Real Estate Apartment Rentals Classifieds Local Deals Local Businesses Business Resource Center Your Regional News Pages Ann Arbor Bay City Detroit Flint Grand Rapids Jackson Kalamazoo Lansing Muskegon Saginaw Mobile Mobile apps | Tablet apps More on MLive Photos Video Weather Post a job Post a free classified ad Sell your car Sell/Rent your home Apartments and Rentals Sponsor Content Follow Us Twitter | Facebook | YouTube Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy

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