How one family’s nightmare illustrates the growing threat of real estate wire fraud
It’s something that neither Bank of America nor Wells Fargo verified before processing the transfer because there is no federal law that requires them to do so.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., has been urging the Federal Reserve to add protections for home buyers.
“They don’t want to solve the problem because they’ve got a computer system that would have to be modified. But it’s worth doing,” Sherman said.
In June, the Congressman put forward a bill, the Internet Fraud Prevent Act, to address the issue.
“This legislation which would, among other things, require the Federal Reserve to perform a cost-benefit analysis on the sort of wire payment name matching mechanism being implemented in the U.K. Regulators there anticipate this change will reduce this kind of fraud by at least 90 percent,” Rep. Sherman said in part in a statement emailed to CNBC.
Wells Fargo declined to divulge any information on the account that fraudulently received the Fishers’ $921,235.10.
“We cannot discuss information about our customers or their accounts due to customer privacy,” Stacy Kika, a Wells Fargo spokesperson said in a statement.
Kika also said that “if a customer feels they have been a victim of fraud, we encourage them to contact their bank immediately and file a claim. At Wells Fargo, when we receive a customer fraud claim, we take action to investigate the claim and report our findings directly to the customer. We do not publicly discuss our anti-fraud strategies.”
The money Aaron Fisher wired to what he thought was the mortgage company was ultimately diverted across the globe to China, according to a source close to the case.
The FBI says money lost in crimes like this often ends up in China where it’s usually lost forever.
“They stole a lot of financial security from us. They stole a future that could have been, a future that involved a house that we were going to live in, a future that might involve some more financial security for our children, and the ability to reduce college costs and not saddle our kids with debt, right? They stole all of that,” Aaron said.
But then everything took an unexpected turn, again.
Two weeks after the couple thought they lost all that money and their dream home, Aaron got a call from Bank of America.
Incredibly, the bank had been able to get all their money back.
“I’m still nervous,” said Aaron, days after that call. “We don’t know why the bank gave it back to us.”
The Fishers, verifying all the money had been put back, closed their account at Bank of America and opened a new one at a different bank.
Turns out the home the Fishers wanted was still for sale, and the second time they tried to buy it they used a certified check at the closing.
This content was originally published here.