A single mother in South Florida spent her savings to put down a down payment for a condo. But the money ended up in the wrong hands.
âI said it was over. I wasted my money, “Patricia Verlino told NBC 6.” Someone did this to me and I’m not going to get over it. “
Patricia was just starting to move into her new condo in Davie with her two teenage daughters. Now she has to move out by Friday.
The deposit of $ 63,000 to close was sent by his bank by wire transfer. Patricia told NBC 6 that she worked for years to save the deposit.
âLots of sacrifices,â Patricia said. âOften without the girls because I leave one job and go to another. I work weekends. Also, I don’t go on vacation with the girls.
Patricia shared documents with NBC 6 showing she had closed the house with the securities firm earlier this month. But she said, as she unpacked her things, that she got a call from her real estate agent.
âShe said ‘call your bank because the securities company still doesn’t receive the transfer,â Patricia told us.
Bank records show that the deposit money was wired. Patricia therefore shared the transfer instructions she received with her real estate agent and the securities company.
âWhen I forwarded this email to the securities company, someone from the securities company said ‘this is not our account’, and it’s like when I was like ‘Oh my God, it is a problem. “”
Kevin Tacher, who runs Independence Title at Broward, has nothing to do with the deal but is working hard to make sure others are aware of this scam.
“It’s the biggest real estate scam in the country right now – wire fraud,” Tacher said, adding “It’s the saddest thing to see someone lose their savings.”
Patricia showed us the emails she received with what she thought were transfer instructions.
The email contained his company name and information, and the sender appeared to be an employee of the company. This is a woman whose name also appears in her closing documents.
âThe email was hacked,â the professor said. âThese hackers – what they do – is they monitor emails until they see a failed business transaction. Then they pose as identity theft – they pretend to be the title agent asking him to wire them money.
The company later confirmed that the employee’s name was misspelled and that she was not working there at the time the fraudulent email was sent.
In an email, Patricia’s real estate agent told us that she gave her the correct wire transfer instructions at the start of the process when she signed the contract, adding “When the closing date was near, I gave her the correct transfer instructions. asked (Patricia) if she had the wire transfer instructions, she said yes. ” She also said she was unaware that the employee listed in the email no longer worked for the securities firm.
Patricia said she contacted law enforcement, including the Davie Police Department, to see if detectives could find out who took her money. A spokesperson for the department confirmed that they are currently investigating the case.
Its title company, Brokers Title and Escrow, told NBC that their “email has not been compromised and this domain is not from anyone associated with the company.”
They declined an on-camera interview but wrote in an email: “I totally understand that she is horrified to lose her savings, we totally sympathize with her. We are by her side and made ourselves available. to cooperate fully with all those responsible for this investigation. “
They went on to say that they had not filed a claim with their insurance as they had not been determined to be responsible for this incident.
âI’m not sleeping,â Patricia told NBC 6, while holding back tears.
She is due to leave the property on Friday with her daughters.
âI just said maybe we have to start all over again, but I’m going to give you (his daughters) whatever happens after thisâ¦ I’m going to give you a nice place again,â Patricia said.
Tacher said there are things you can do to prevent this from happening.
First of all, he said you need to stay in close contact with the title company and confirm the items with a phone call. It is also important to only respond to communications that require authentication with security codes.
The professor said securities companies should warn buyers not to send funds electronically without these confirmations. Patricia’s securities company told us they always do this.