How scammers are stealing thousands from new home buyers


    FBI: thousands of homeowners are losing millions of dollars in a new, sophisticated scam (BDN photo by John Clarke Russ)

    STATEWIDE (WGME) - During this National Consumer Protection Week, the I-Team is on your side with an important scam alert if you're in the process of buying a home or plan to buy one.

    Thousands of would-be homeowners are losing millions of dollars in a new, sophisticated scam.

    Thieves are hacking emails of realtors and title companies and then directing payments to them instead of the real title company.

    This scam is getting a lot of attention right now from the FBI to the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.

    It's a wire transfer scam, and the FBI said people are across the country are being victimized.

    During the last 5 years, this kind of scam has topped $12.5 billion.

    In a couple recent cases, a Maine family told us they lost $10,000 and a Massachusetts family lost $300,000.

    The state is now fighting back and has put together a new book of scams targeting homeowners, including this down payment scam.

    "The email looks like the title company or the bank or whatever and the money is not being sent there. It's being sent to the criminals and the money is gone," said David Leach with the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.

    The FBI offered these suggestions:

    1. Scrutinize all emails for anything out of the oridnary
    2. Don't feel pressured to wire money
    3. Always confirm wire requests

    The state said homeowners should also watch for door to door scams and robocalls offering refinancing.

    Click here to request a copy of the new homeowner scam guide

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