According to the FBI, in 2016, incidents of cyber fraud in the real estate industry shot up by 480%. Criminals somehow figured out the real estate process around that time and have been wreaking havoc ever since. So, as they say, there are two types of businesses: ones that have already been hacked and ones that will be. If fraudsters make off with your escrow money, here is what you should do to control the damage.
Call the involved banks right away. Speed is absolutely critical. Chances are good that the funds have already left your account so your bank can’t stop the transfer. But your bank might be able to persuade the bank that received the funds to freeze the account involved. But often the receiving bank will balk at that, in which case you might have to run to court to get a restraining order against that institution. Of course, that works only if the funds have not yet been disbursed, which they normally have by that point.
Inform the interested parties. You should strive to be transparent with the participants in the transaction, which might help avoid a future lawsuit. Be sure to put your insurance carriers on written notice—even if you’re not certain whether the loss is covered by your policy. Don’t be surprised if your carrier denies coverage, even if you think you were covered. You might need to hire a lawyer to fight that battle for you.
Get the police involved. For insurance purposes, you’ll probably have to file a report with your local police. You should also file a complaint on the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is located at https://www.ic3.gov. That information helps the feds coordinate on a national basis and target newly emerging schemes.
Hire a forensic computer expert. You’ll need someone to go through your servers and systems to locate the problem and stop it from recurring. Once you know the scope of the hack, you’ll have a better idea of what damage control needs to be done (such as sending emails or notices to the affected people).