News by Subject
Complete list of specialty news sections.

Mortgage Advertising
Reach mortgage executives, loan originators and other people tied to mortgage industry.

Mortgage Industry News
Subscription-based news for people who work in real estate finance.

Mortgage Newsletter
Free e-mail newsletter with the latest headlines from

Mortgage News Reprints
Put entire stories in your online or printed newsletter or publication.

Mortgage Feedget RSS code
Condensed stories for your web site or for your RSS reader.

News Archives
Archive of news entries.

Mortgage Statistics
Data and statistics for real estate finance.

Mortgage Graphs
Directory of lenders, branch operators and mortgage service providers.
home advertise email RSS about us
HOT Topics Rates Glossary LO License Search
Consumer Mortgage News
Free mortgage news for current and prospective borrowers from a leading online mortgage industry news publication.

Home Buyer Averts Title Company Scam

Credit union helped him identify bogus wire instructions

Feb. 12, 2018

By BETTY LIN-FISHER The Akron Beacon Journal (Tribune News Service)

We've heard of scams that often cost victims hundreds or thousands of dollars, which is bad enough.

But a mortgage title scam that almost victimized an Akron, Ohio-area man could have cost him what could have been a life savings for many -- tens of thousands of dollars, in the high five figures.

Luckily, he and his credit union mortgage specialist realized what was happening before the money was wired.

This scam apparently has been around for a few years, but may just be hitting the Akron area.

The Akron man is no stranger to buying houses. He's bought two other houses in his lifetime.

He asked for anonymity and didn't want to publicize the exact amount he could have lost since he felt violated by the potential scam.

Nationally, the scam has victimized others, including a couple who lost $1.5 million, according to an August Associated Press story.

Here's what happened to our local homebuyer, and it's very similar to the national scam:

He was going to close on an Akron-area house on a recent Monday. On the Friday before, he went into Towpath Credit Union to meet with Amanda Sibera, his mortgage specialist, to go over paperwork.

He needed to wire money to a bank in California. Federal rules require any payments over $10,000 to be wired.

As the homebuyer was sitting with Sibera on that Friday morning a few weeks ago, the two were reviewing the wiring instructions that Sibera had from previous transactions. All they needed was to confirm the loan number and bank routing numbers.

"It's good to have another set of eyes on this. This is a lot of money," the homebuyer told me. "We literally touched each letter and number with a pen."

Here's where it gets weird and scary.

They were on the phone with the title company representative. She said she would email the wire instructions within two minutes.

When the buyer opened his email, he already had a message that appeared to be from the title company representative. He did not immediately notice that the email had actually come a few hours earlier.

"This had the correct dollar amount to the loan to the penny. Even though I had opened it, Gmail had flagged it as suspicious," he said

Sibera said the email also instructed the homebuyer to wire the money on Friday "to not cause a delay in the closing. That was the trigger word. It was Friday. He wasn't closing until Monday. The title company didn't technically need the funds until Monday."

When the homebuyer and Sibera phoned the title agent back, they asked if she had sent her email. She said no, she was working on it.

When they looked more closely, they noticed though the email appeared to come from the title agent, the reply message was to a random Gmail account. The listed bank also was in a different state than the actual bank he was using.

The homebuyer "was obviously very afraid of what was happening. He felt like his whole life could have just been gone," Sibera said.

According to other news reports and warnings from the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors, the scammers are likely hacking into email systems of those associated with home closings and consumers' emails in order to see in real time names and exact amounts of down payments in order to send what looks like a legitimate email.

The American Land Title Association, the national association for title companies, has been trying for two years to educate its members and consumers about the fraud, association spokesman Jeremy Yohe said.

"These hackers interject themselves at the moment when it seems legit. As the buyer, the person just wants to get the keys to their house," Yohe told me. "We are hoping consumers become aware that this hacking is possible and could steal the funds for their home."

The title company used in the local homebuyer's case, First American Title, referred questions to its corporate headquarters. The corporate headquarters, in turn, referred me to Yohe's organization.

"Our members -- attorneys and title companies -- have taken many steps to try to combat this problem ... but these criminals are smart and are constantly altering their tactics to steal the money," Yohe said. "Fortunately in this case, [the homebuyers] didn't lose the money."

First American Title has a fact sheet on its website warning its agents of the growing wire fraud scam at closing. It suggests agents use a safe phone number to contact the homebuyer, not to rely solely on emails. In some cases, agents have begun requiring an in-person meeting to finish the wiring instructions.

Additionally, the national organization said to be wary when wiring information changes at the last minute.

The homebuyer continued to get emails from the would-be scammer.

"I did get two other follow-up emails on late Saturday or Friday asking "Did you send it? You're in danger of jeopardizing your closing,'" the homebuyer said.

In the end, he successfully closed on the house and wired the money to the right bank by the deadline.

He and the folks at Towpath Credit Union hope by sharing his story, it will prevent anyone else in our area from losing tens of thousands of dollars in this scam.

Said Sibera: "I hope this is the only time. [Closing is] never a fun process.... This should be one of the best days of their lives, not one of the worst."

next story

back to home page

To see more of The Akron Beacon Journal or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2018, The Akron Beacon Journal

Distributed by Tribune News Service.

This story was distributed by TNS - Tribune News Service
Refinance News
News about refinance programs, pricing and production.
H A R P 2.0 News
News stories about the H o m e Affordable Refinance Program including expanded program guidelines.

Copyright © 2016 Subsribers Only:

AMC directory

ARM indexes

mortgage company directory

mortgage regulations

net branch directory

pricing engine directory

wholesale lender directory

More Mortgage News Resources ( full site map):

advertising news

appraisal news

bank news

biggest lenders

commercial mortgage news

corporate mortgage news

credit news

FHA news

financial regulation news

foreclosure news

free mortgage news

GSE news

jumbo mortgage news

interest rates

loan modification news

loan originator survey

LOS Newsletter


mortgage associations

mortgage-backed securities

mortgage books

mortgage brokers

mortgage compliance

mortgage conferences

mortgage directories

mortgage education

mortgage employment

mortgage employment index

mortgage executives

mortgage fraud

mortgage fraud blog

mortgage fraud local news

Mortgage Fraud Index

Mortgage Graveyard

mortgage insurance news

mortgage lawsuits

mortgage leads

mortgage lender ranking

mortgage licenses

mortgage litigation

Mortgage Litigation Index

Mortgage Market Index

mortgage mergers

mortgage news

mortgage politics

mortgage press releases

mortgage production

mortgage public relations

mortgage rates

mortgage servicing

mortgage statistics

mortgage technology

mortgage video

mortgage Webinars

net branch

net branch directory

nonprime news

origination news

originator tools

refinance news

reverse mortgage news

sales blog

secondary marketing

servicing news

subprime news

wholesale lenders

wireless mortgage news