By Jill Bright | Guest Author Diana Hoffman | Chicago Title
Our National Underwriter was working on title clearance for a pending transaction. The transaction involved an apartment building in Atlanta that recently underwent a remodel, which resulted in a mechanic’s lien.
The Underwriter worked with the contractor’s attorney to obtain a lien release. The attorney prepared the cancellation of the lien and a demand for payment of $76,325 on behalf of his client. His demand authorized Chicago Title to record the cancellation after payment of their demand was wired.
The attorney emailed copies to the Underwriter for her acceptance and signature. Once she signed, he agreed to overnight the original documents to her.
The Underwriter reviewed the demand for payment and cancellation of the lien. They were in order, so she signed the demand and returned it via email to the lienholder’s attorney. However, the very next day she received a new email from the attorney which read:
Please kindly disregard the escrow letter I sent yesterday the bank Account on, I just confirm from our bank manager the account is going through financial audit and can’t be able to receive or process payment during this period.
Attached letter confirms the right accounts for payment, Please sign this so I can fedx the original today and confirm receipt of this email.
The Underwriter stopped dead in her tracks. She had heard about the methods used by criminals to divert wire transfers, but she could not believe it was staring her in the face. She picked up the phone and called the attorney at a known trusted phone number she had received at the beginning of the transaction.
The attorney confirmed the Underwriters suspicions. He never sent her new wire instructions. Nothing was wrong with his account, and it was not being audited.
Fortunately, the good guys prevailed that day, but the bad guys will not stop trying. The Underwriter knew all the signs and took the time to verify the information. Her actions saved the Company from a potential loss of nearly $77,000.
Our Escrow Officers, Title Department, & Underwriters are all trained to detect and prevent fraud which ultimately protects you!
Article provided by contributing author:
Diana Hoffman, Corporate Escrow Administrator
FNTG/National Escrow Administration