Wire Fraud and How to Avoid It

August 14, 2020


Those who thought they could never fall victim to a wire fraud scheme are awakening to a new reality: it really can happen to anyone.

This is because cyber criminals are investing more time into increasing the sophistication of their efforts. Newer generations of wire fraud schemes can be highly targeted, fooling even those who have always spotted scams in the past. Here’s an example.

A new variant of wire fraud targets home buyers. Criminals compromise the accounts of real estate agents and monitor their emails for upcoming transactions. Then, at the time of closing, they send an email from the real estate agent’s account, tricking the homebuyer into wiring their down payment to fraudulent account. Because the email comes from the legitimate account of a trusted professional with whom the homebuyer is currently interacting, it appears very real.

NOTE: Bank Iowa’s lenders will NEVER ask you to initiate a wire transfer via email.

The results of a wire scam like the one above can be devastating, especially when money is wired to an offshore account. In those circumstances, the funds can be nearly impossible to recover.

The FBI issued several recent warnings similar crimes. Other variations of this scam can include receiving a bill or new payment instructions from a vendor you know and trust. Even if the email appears credible, follow these steps to stay safe:

  • Stay alert. Be aware that anyone can fall victim to a sophisticated, well-targeted, well-timed scam. If you receive an email asking you take immediate action regarding a financial transaction, don’t react right away.
  • Verify first. Before following email instructions that involve supplying financial information, signing a document or logging into a new website, make a phone call to speak directly with the person making the request to determine if it’s valid.
  • Talk to the bank. Bank Iowa follows internal procedures to verify that all wire transfers have been requested by our customers. But, if you fall victim to a fraudulent request, time is of the essence! Contact Bank Iowa immediately at 1-844-226-5421 to determine if the funds can be recalled. Please act fast. There is a very short window of time to accomplish this.