– Crystal Vagnier – Select Group – Writer/Editor
In early June, the federal government announced that the FBI funded and conducted a massive cyber threat operation named “Operation Wire Wire” and arrested close to 75 people: 42 in the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. These individuals participated in one of the largest Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams and hijacked wire transfers from individuals, businesses, and real estate transactions.
The operation began in January of 2018 and included U.S. and local district attorneys, foreign governments, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Department of Justice. They were able to successfully seize $2.4 million and recovered $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.
Over the last few years, the real estate industry has been hit hard by these Business Email Compromise schemes by robbing buyers during closing costs from posing as Realtors®, title companies, or employees of a business they’ve already done transactions with. Anybody can become a victim to a BEC scam. Buyers, agents, and brokers must educate and protect themselves against phishing schemes; an example of one preventive measure is with email encryption. Operation Wire Wire was a success with the help of the global community, and hopefully any future threats will be thusly eliminated.