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Alaska Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Matthew O'Brien, survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialist with the 212th Rescue Squadron simulates combat search and rescue tactics in Southcentral Alaska by practicing UHF/VHF radio communications Jan. 21, 2021, as part of Operation Noble Defender. Noble Defender is a North American Air Defense Command Arctic air defense operation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kelly Willett/Released)

Military Home-buying Horror Stories: Scammed in Alaska

Military Home-buying Horror Stories: Scammed in Alaska

Could you imagine finding your dream home, getting approved for your VA Home Loan, getting ready to close on the house, only for your final wire payment to be intercepted by scammers? 

This is what happened in this month’s Military Home-buying Horror Story submitted by an agent helping families in Alaska.

“Had a smart military guy that had a $50k downpayment to keep his payment down. Wire fraud zapped him”

Because closing costs (depending on lender and seller credits) can be as high as 3% of the purchase price of your home it has become a target for high level scammers looking to intercept your wired funds.

“Had a smart military guy that had a $50k downpayment to keep his payment down. Wire fraud zapped him. He thought he was going to have to back out and rent.I ran the numbers and it made sense for him to move forward because every indicator was that he’d make it back in 3-4 years. We’d gotten him “the cheapest house in the best neighborhood”. Then we got this market and he made it back in equity in one.”

So how big is this problem? BIG. FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report informs that 2019 registered 11,677 real estate/rental fraud victims with a combined monetary loss of $221 million.

How do you keep this Military Homebuying Horror story from becoming YOUR reality? Here are three ways to protect yourself against falling victim to a real estate related wiring scam.

How to Protect Yourself

1- Confirm the e-mail address that is sending the wiring information. Most scammers will try to mimic the e-mail addresses of the companies that they are trying to impersonate. Read the email carefully. Then reread. Even copy and paste the email into the url to ensure that a scammer didn’t merely flip a letter or two in disguise.

2- If it’s not encrypted, it’s not real. Many states require wiring instructions and account information to be encoded to protect from tampering or interception. Ask your title representative, escrow office or agent what you can expect in HOW the instructions will be received.

3- Go to your bank for help. Wiring funds from home may seem convenient, but when moving LARGE amounts of money around having a professional to guide you can be incredibly helpful. Bank professionals are used to assisting in real estate wire transfers. They will often even call the title company with you to verify the information prior to sending. This may seem like an unneeded precaution, but could play an important role in protecting yourself from wiring fraud.