A Florida couple loses approximately $18,000 to a business email compromise scheme

Americans have lost billions of dollars to cyber thieves who forged email addresses to appear as if they were being sent from legitimate title companies.

In the end, the victims discover that the transfers were part of a plan that cost them every penny.

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Experts call the wire fraud trap “business email compromise.”

According to the FBI, between June 2016 and June 2021, homeowners and investors lost more than $43 billion to domestic and international email scams.

Tom Cronkright, co-founder of security software company Certifid, told News 6 “it’s just easy money” for scammers to infiltrate an email chain and divert funds with a simple lie.

“This is big business, a big company,” Cronkright told News 6. “They’re just not working on a transaction, it’s a pipeline of transactions.”

Aimee and Michael Furle shared their story with News 6 after losing nearly $18,000 in a September shutdown.

The couple received an email that appeared to follow their titular company’s email chain, only to discover they had transferred the money to a Texas bank account set up by a scammer.

Aimee told News 6 she contacted her bank, Wells Fargo, as soon as she was told the title company hadn’t received the money.

Furle said a bank employee confirmed the funds existed but could not get them back.

“If I get the email from the property owner, I can infiltrate the transaction,” Cronkright told News 6. “If you don’t act quickly within 24 to 48 hours, the chances of success (return of funds) are pretty minimal.”

In a statement to News 6, Wells Fargo said in part: “A bank transfer transfers money directly to another person’s account and is usually irreversible, even where fraud is involved. We reviewed this case and confirmed that our team took the correct actions.”

Certifid provides security software to 300 title companies in all 50 states to ensure money transfers are not intercepted by scammers, as was the case with Furles.

“Ultimately, we help title companies transfer money securely and distribute money securely when it comes to a real estate deal,” Cronkright said.

If you have questions about real estate transactions, email [email protected] or visit www.certifid.com.

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