Florida man loses $15K to business email compromise in real estate scheme

A Central Florida man looking to buy land to build a small house in Port Charlotte lost more than $15,000 in a recently reported business email compromise.

John Gable told News 6 that the fake email was enough to convince him to wire the down payment to the title company. However, the title company never received the funding.

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“I don’t know where the blame lies,” Gable told News6.

What he overlooked was the subtle difference in the email address that conveyed the wiring instructions.

This was from a hotmail.com account that the title company never used. The scammer included a bogus message in his message, a series of legitimate emails between Gable, the title company, and the real estate agent.

“I’m sick all the time,” Gable said. “I can’t believe this is happening”

According to federal law enforcement, the scheme has reached the “industrial” level.

Caroline O’Brien Buster, a special agent with the Orlando Secret Service, is trying to stop scammers from using everything from email messages to plain old faxes to dupe consumers and title company staff across the state. Said he saw

A veteran Secret Service agent said her office tracks business email compromises (BECs) almost daily. For her, the convenience of smartphones, text her messages, email her messages has created the perfect environment for these email deceptions.

O’Brien-Buster said, “You’re the only one who can guarantee that the money goes where it’s supposed to go.” That’s it.”

By the end of 2022, the FBI reported that more than $43 billion had been stolen from wire transfers directed by international fraudsters targeting email in 177 countries, including the United States.

O’Brien-Buster told News 6 that anyone involved in a real estate transaction should make sure they are dealing with legitimate professionals to avoid this type of loss.

“A lot of times it happens, but they don’t even know it happens,” O’Brien Buster said. “I’ll be there to make sure the (financial) wire gets where it’s needed.”

If your business email or bank account has been compromised, please contact your local Secret Service office.

You can file a complaint about any Internet crime here.

You can also email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text 407-676-7428 with the question “Make Ends Meet”.

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