TAMPA, Fla. - First time home buyer Kimberly Shepard spent the last year turning her town house into a home. Shepard says no one, not the realtor or title company ever mentioned a problem with the closing.
The former owners filed suit in April against the title company, the realtor and Shepard. They claim they were never paid for the townhome.
According to the suit, someone hacked the realtor’s email and changed the wiring instructions. The sellers never got a dime of the $145,000 sales price.
Joellyn Robles with Hillsborough Title says typically hackers monitor email traffic then strike at closing time.
We contacted both Bay City Title Partners that handled the closing and the seller’s realtor Cheryl Stimac. The title company referred us to their attorney who did not respond and Stimac did not return our calls or emails.
Hillsborough Title which has no connection to this transaction and others in the real estate business say they've taken multiple steps to combat the fraud. They include using secure portals to message clients wiring instructions.
Shepard’s title insurance will pay for her legal representation but she has no idea how the case will turn out.
The bottom line is never allow your bank or anyone to wire money on your behalf without confirming by phone the wiring instructions.