El Pulso

Increase in Wire Fraud Indicates Cyber Security More Important than Ever!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

On April 28, a resident of Lacey Township reported that she received an email in reference to her home closing. The resident was asked to wire a $34,500 deposit into a bank account. Several days after the Lacey Township resident wired the money, she found out that the firm’s email account was hacked and the $34,500 was wired into an account unrelated to the firm. This case is under further investigation. Full Story…


Aaron Cole lost his $123,000 down payment in a wire scam in December of 2019. A cyber-criminal posed as someone from the title company Cole had been working with. Cole’s response to how he got scammed? “They sent me an email and I just clicked reply.” It’s as simple as that! Full Story…


Kristina Herbert and her husband Genaro Pimienta Rosales were days away from closing on their first home in Carmel Valley when Kristina received two emails one morning from what looked to be her escrow agent and her real estate agent. Kristina ended up sending a wire transfer of $180,974.31. The next day, her real estate agent called her and said the bank never received her down payment. It turns out the cyber-hackers obtained the names of her escrow and real estate agents and created a convincing email to reroute her payment. Kristina ended up going to the bank to try and stop the cyber-criminals from taking all her and her husband’s money (their life savings) and stopped the fraudsters, but not before the thieves took just under $66,000. Full Story…


According to FBI reports, in the real-estate/rental sector, more than 9,600 victims lost over $56 million in 2017 & the type of fraud with the highest reported loss was Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise, with losses totaling more than $675 million. The mere frequency of these attacks underscores how important cyber security really is. Full Story…


Valley Land Title Co. takes the emergence of phishing, wire fraud, and all matters of cyber security extremely serious. Here are a few proactive steps you can take to ensure you do not fall victim to phishing or wire fraud:

  1. Call and confirm wiring instructions by phone before transferring funds. Use the phone number directly from our website, www.valleylandtitleco.com, or from a business card.
  2. Be suspicious and alert:  Wiring instructions and information regarding payments don’t frequently change.
  3. Confirm the account number and the name on the account with your bank before sending a wire.
  4. Verify by calling your title professional or real estate agent to validate that the funds were received – if money has been sent to the wrong account, detecting it within 24 hours gives you the best chance of recovering your money.
  5. Forward, don’t reply. Criminals tend to use email addresses that are very similar to the real one. By manually typing in an email address, you make it easier to determine if someone attempting fraud is targeting you.

Market Projections

Thursday, February 7, 2019 

From American Land Title Association’s Title News, January 2019 Ed.

As these companies navigate technology options and the positive outlook for the potential of fintech, they’ll be doing so in a tightening market spurred by rising mortgage rates and high house prices.

CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft reported that economic growth in the United States only needs to last six more months in order to set the record for the longest economic expansion in the country’s history, based on business cycle dates going back more than 160 years.

Nothaft sees growth starting to slow, but still pushing unemployment to 3.4 percent—marking a 50- year low. As unemployment creeps down, interest rates will continue to rise as the Federal Reserve continues to normalize the level of interest rates and keeps an eye on inflation. CoreLogic expects long-term yields to rise as well, nudging 30-year fixed mortgage rates up to an average of about 5.25 percent by next December—the highest in a decade. This will ultimately affect the housing market and title order volume.

“At the margin, homeowners who currently have lowrate mortgages will be incented to stay in their home rather than sell, keeping the new-listings flow relatively low,” Nothaft said. “The larger monthly payments that come with higher mortgage rates will likely soften buyer demand, leading to less pressure on home prices.”

For mortgage lending, higher rates mean even less refinancing in 2019. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) predicts $1.24 trillion in purchase mortgage originations in 2019. This is a 4.2 percent increase from 2018. In addition, the MBA anticipates refinance originations will continue to trend lower next year, decreasing by 12.4 percent to $395 billion. Overall in 2019, total mortgage originations are forecasted to decrease to $1.63 trillion from $1.64 trillion this year.

“We are seeing some deceleration in the rate of home price growth, but believe this is a healthy pause for the market, as it will allow income growth to catch up to the recent run-up in home values,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA chief economist and senior vice president for research and industry technology.

He added that housing demand should continue to grow over the forecast horizon, with the pace of home sales held back primarily by the constrained pace of new building. He expects that home purchase originations will increase each year through 2021, and that pace should continue to increase given the wave of millennial buyers beginning to hit the market. Nothaft added that growth in home equity and homeowners deciding to stay put rather than sell, should increase home remodeling expenditures and the origination of HELOCs for home improvement purposes.

“While the macroeconomic and housing market backdrops are, and should remain quite favorable, the mortgage industry continues to be challenged by the drop in origination volume, coupled with significant margin compression,” Fratantoni said. “Lenders of all types and sizes are seeing elevated costs, coupled with intensely competitive pricing, to capture more volume. This in turn is depressing revenues.”

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