Wire Fraud
Silicon Valley Real Estate | Juliana Lee

Protect Yourself Against Wire Fraud

  1. Use paper cashiers checks whenever possible.
  2. Assume your email conversations have been hacked into.
  3. Always verify routing numbers, account numbers, and bank addresses (even when you call your escrow agent).
  4. Use a known phone number. Keep your escrow agent's phone number where you can refer to it. Do not use a phone number contained in an email.
  5. Phone numbers can be spoofed. If you get a call and aren't certain you know the person, call the number you previously saved.
  6. Wire instructions rarely change. Be cautious of changes.
  7. Almost never will money be wired to a person. Assume fraud, if you are asked to wire it to a person (until proven otherwise).
  8. Wiring instructions almost always come from escrow agents, not your real estate agent.
  9. Add multi-factor authentication to your email. Multi-factor authentication can prevent someone from accessing your email even if they already have your password (Check the phone number used for multi-factor authentication). After escrow has closed, you could potentially remove multi-factor authentication.

Actual Reported Fraud Case

A brief summary of a story of an actual fraud attempt written about by Karen Queen is presented below:

  • Realtor Ashley Jones & husband (false name) were wanting to buy an investment duplex for $183,000 cash.
  • Scammer had gained access to Jones email account.
  • Scammer deleted authentic email and substituted a similar email but with instructions to wire money to a different account.


  • After receiving wiring instructions via email, Jones called her escrow agent to verify the email was legitimate.
  • Escrow agent verified she had just emailed wiring instructions.
  • Jones wired money from her brokerage account to the specified account (at a major bank).
  • Jones called a day later (day 2) to see if the funds had cleared.
  • The escrow agent told her the money never arrived.
  • Jones and her escrow agent compared account numbers and discovered they were different, although at the same bank.
  • On day 3 Jones called her brokerage account representative to see if the wired money could be returned to her account.
  • The brokerage representative asked "Then why are you emailing asking for more money?"
  • The scammer had gotten greedy and tried to get more money from her brokerage account.
  • However the brokerage representative had replied to the request for more money saying she needed telephone confirmation of the request. The scammer responded with excuses why they couldn't make a telephone call. The brokerage representative became suspicious and froze the scammer's account.
  • Jones was fortunate to get her money back but the brokerage assistant was so rattled by the whole ordeal that he won't talk to Jones on the phone anymore.


Fraud has been committed by thieves sending an email immediately after a valid email. The victim called their escrow agent who said she had sent an email. The victim did not verify the routing and account numbers.

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Juliana Lee
505 Hamilton Ave, Ste 100
Palo Alto, CA 94301




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