Are Real Estate Agencies Doing Enough To Prevent Financial Cyber Crimes?

Tuesday, June 6th 2017, 11:08 pm
By: News On 6

Scammers sent a Tulsa man a fake email posing as his realtor and walked away with $54,000.

No one is taking responsibility for the crime, but one expert said the burden is on the business to keep its clients safe.

Warren Cook bought a home on 52nd and Peoria, but when it came time to pay the down payment, Cook realized the email with wiring instructions that he got from his realtor actually came from a cyber criminal.

6/5/2017 Related Story: Hackers Pretending To Be Realtor Take Thousands From Tulsa Family

"It's very scary. It's devastating to the people it happens to," he said.

Axay Parekh is the president of the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors. He said he's upfront with his clients about what they should and should not expect from him.

"The first meeting I have, I always tell them - you are never going to get wiring instructions from me,” Parekh said.

Cook said he never got that communication from McGraw Realtors.

The company said it's not responsible for Cook's situation, but it has changed its policy since. McGraw agents now tell their clients upfront they'll never receive financial instructions from their realtor - something they did not do before.

"Anybody could be patrolling and collecting information that you send and receive from your device on that network," said IT expert Danny Rotelli.

Rotelli owns an IT company that specializes in managing data. He said it's easy for criminals to access private emails over public Wi-Fi networks.

And if any company is discussing sensitive information over email, Rotelli believes that company is liable.

"Your clients trust you as a custodian of their information and you have a pretty big responsibility to make sure your business practices protect them," he said.

Rotelli said you should never include financial information over email unless it's encrypted.