Step-by-Step Recovery Process Made Available for Wire Fraud Victims

February 13, 2018

To help the increasing number of title agents, homebuyers, real estate professionals and mortgage lenders targeted by the wire fraud epidemic, two industry experts have published a white paper detailing the immediate steps the victimized professional or homebuyer must take in order to improve the odds of recovering stolen funds.

“When Minutes Matter: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wire Fraud Recovery,” is a practical fraud mitigation roadmap authored by anti-fraud technology developer Thomas Cronkright II, CEO and co-founder of CertifID, and cybercrime/risk consultant Kenneth Robb, founder of Citadel Cyber Solutions. Cronkright, also the co-owner of a Michigan-based title agency, has himself been victimized by wire fraud in the past. He and co-owner Lawrence Duthler, co-founder and president of CertifID, nonetheless managed to recover most of the stolen funds.

“Mortgage, title and real estate professionals don’t truly realize how sophisticated cyber criminals are and the impact wire fraud is having on transactions,” said Cronkright. “It’s not just a homebuyer or closing agent issue. It affects the entire ecosystem - lenders; mortgage brokers; attorneys, Realtors—all of us. And because of the amount of money at stake the threat continues to increase.”

Cronkright describes the whitepaper as a comprehensive roadmap for the minutes and even seconds after it’s realized that funds have been unintentionally sent to a fraudster. The document also includes pertinent FBI field office contact information and sample legal documents that could help direct the victims’ attorneys in the recovery effort.

“When it comes to wire fraud, the odds are very much against the mortgage professional or home buyer once the fraud has been put in motion,” Robb said. “With every minute allowed to pass, the odds increase exponentially that the stolen funds are gone forever. What needs to be done to even have a chance to recover some or all of the stolen funds is neither intuitive, nor understood widely. Just dialing 911 and expecting the local authorities to have it covered is more likely than not to lead to disappointment.”

Statistics reinforce that mortgage wire fraud is exploding, growing from 3 percent of payment fraud attempts in 2010, to a staggering 48 percent, according to the FBI. The FBI received 298,728 cybercrime and fraud complaints in 2016 with reported losses of more than $1.4 billion. Business email compromise (BEC) was the number one cause of loss. In the same year, wire fraud in real estate transactions grew 480 percent and numbers are expected to be much higher for 2017. According to Cronkright, cyber criminals are incredibly patient and when they strike, they strike in real time with incredible precision and sophistication.

“Our experience with fraud was one of the most terrifying in our professional careers,” Duthler added. “It took us two years and countless hours, but we were able to recover a majority of the funds we lost. During that time, we were exposed to the depth and sophistication of the global cyber fraud network. It is shocking.”

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