Real estate agents should be on the lookout for a phishing scam disguised as a real estate lead from Realtor.com. A phishing scam involves sending emails that look to be from a real, reputable company, but are not, in order to get the recipient to reveal personal information , such as credit card numbers, email passwords, etc so the scammer can use the information for some fraudulent purpose. Over the past couple of years real estate agents have been a specific target of these scammers. Real estate agents are targeted in an effort to obtain the agents email password so the scammer can then send a phony email to the agents clients tricking them into wiring money to the fraudsters account rather than the title company for a closing.
So, how do these fraudsters obtain the password to your email account to do this? Simple, they ask you for it and, unfortunately, many times, the unsuspecting agent falls for the scam.
Just this past week I received an email that is a great example of what I’m talking about. The email (shown below) purported to be from Realtor.com and appeared to be a lead contacting me wanting to find a home to purchase. The message even said the person was referred to me “by my friend Debbie”, making it all the more real-sounding and personal. After all, with a common name like Debbie and all the people real estate agents come in contact with and meet, who doesn’t know a Debbie?
Here is how the phishing scam works…
- The agent receives an email like the one below purporting to be a lead interested in buying a house. To which the agent replies to the lead (who has not given a phone number, only email address and indicated email is the preferred method of communication)..
- The agent receives an email from the scammer in response to the agents email (see below). In the scammer’s response will be a link to a pre-approval letter, or some other bait, the scammer wants the agent to take.
- If the agent clicks on the link in the leads reply in #2 above, they will be taken to what appears to be DropBox and asked to log in using their email info. If you fall for this, you put your email and password in and, at that point, they Gotcha! The scammer now has your email log in information and can use that to log in as you, monitor your emails and find unsuspecting clients that are approaching their closing date. They can then send an email that appears to be from you, and in fact IS from YOUR email account, giving them bogus wiring instructions for the balance due they owe at closing.
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1. Email received with phishing-scam Realtor.com lead
2. Scammer’s reply to agent email with “the bait”
3. The Scammer’s “Gotcha”