Most Cook County real estate attorneys are affiliated as title agents with various title insurance companies. As such, they are now subject to a new form of fraudulent activity. Under this latest fraud, hackers are targeting consumers and stealing earnest money for upcoming transactions.
It has been reported recently that borrowers have received emails allegedly from a title agent attorney providing wire information to transmit earnest money for the transaction. The hackers apparently intercept emails from title agencies or title agent attorneys providing wire transfer information for borrowers to transmit earnest money for an upcoming transaction. The scammers then alter the title company’s bank account information with their own. The unsuspecting borrower wires their down payment directly to the fraudsters. These emails appear to be genuine and contain the title agency’s or attorney’s email information and/or logos and branding.
In these scams, the hackers monitor email traffic of the title agency, attorney or customer and gain knowledge of the timing of the upcoming transaction. While these scams target earnest money, an altered email could conceivably be used to cause misdirection of funds by any party in the transaction, including the title agent themselves. Because of this, Kreisler Law, PC will be using encrypted e-mail or facsimile transmission to send future wire transfer information.
Feel free to contact an Illinois attorney experienced in handling all aspects of real estate closings for both buyers and sellers at Kreisler Law if you have questions about sale of your Chicago area real estate or any other area of the laws governing the purchase or sale of real estate.
Commonly available printed form contracts for the purchase and sale of real estate in the Chicago Metropolitan area contain a paragraph which is very useful for both buyers and sellers. The paragraph is commonly referred to as “Attorney Review” or “Attorney Modification”. Under the terms of the paragraph, attorneys for both buyer and seller have a set period of time after the contract is signed by both buyer and seller and initial earnest money is deposited to review the contract and propose changes. The period is usually five to ten business days. This allows the buyer and seller to agree on the basic terms of the deal, such as purchase price, closing date and mortgage contingency, before going to the expense of employing an attorney.
Once the contract is signed, the executed contract is delivered to the attorneys for the buyer and seller. They can then review the contract, confer with their client as to any issues, clauses or wording of concern to them and then propose appropriate changes in the contract to the attorney for the other side. In most cases, proposed changes can be worked out and the contract then proceeds to closing. However, if the parties’ attorneys cannot reach agreement, either attorney can terminate the contract, in which case the initial earnest money is returned and the property put back on the market. As a kind of safety blanket to real estate buyers and sellers allowing them to sign otherwise binding agreements before they hire an attorney, the Illinois courts have held that the attorney may disapprove the contract during the attorney review period for basically any reason.
Feel free to contact an Illinois attorney experienced in handling all aspects of real estate closings for both buyers and sellers at Kreisler Law, if you have questions about the sale of your Chicago area real estate or any other area of the laws governing the purchase or sale of real estate.