Bulletin: SLS2020006

Date:
April 16, 2020
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
CLAIMS AVOIDANCE - Spike in Attempted Wire Fraud

Dear Associates:

Wire fraud attempts are on the rise due to the current coronavirus pandemic. Attorneys, realtors and buyers are being targeted by fraudsters at an increased rate. We have become aware of successful and attempted fake emails purportedly from "Stewart" instructing the buyers to immediately wire funds “today” to avoid a delay in closing. In one recent case, buyers were told “Due to Covid-19 our process has changed so you must wire funds today to this account.”

This is a reminder to be even more diligent than you were prior to this pandemic. In addition to following wire fraud prevention protocols, an important means of reducing the potential for wire fraud is to initially communicate to the parties involved in the transaction to be on their guard regarding wire fraud. It may reduce the likelihood of fraud if they are told to never wire funds in response to an email or text, even if it appears to come from the realtor or the title company. Further, we strongly recommend you provide the authentic wiring instructions when the file is opened, and advise that, in the event that they receive a subsequent email purporting to change the wiring instructions, they should always verify such new wiring instructions by calling your office before proceeding, using a telephone number not in the subsequent email. 

Other fraud-prevention tips to suggest include:

  1. Change passwords regularly.
  2. Watch for fake emails. Fake emails may include the Stewart name but will not come from the Stewart.com domain. Examples of fake emails are jjonesStewart@gmail.com or john.jones@Sstewart.com. Also, the email address or the wiring account name will often contain the word “closing” such as lawclosing or closing title. These are fake.
  3. In addition to emails, all calls and texts relating to wiring funds should be verified by calling the telephone number of the office that opened the file.
  4. Be extra diligent and remind realtors and buyers of the increased risk and types of scams to avoid. 

If you have any questions, please contact Cindy Madole or Bob Taylor.

As a reminder, you are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with the information contained in all Bulletins and Special Alerts as posted on Virtual Underwriter (www.vuwriter.com), whether you receive them by electronic distribution or not.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
SLS2019003 CLAIMS AVOIDANCE - Wire Fraud Prevention Tips [2-5-20]
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None