A single mother from South Florida used her savings to post a bond on her apartment. But the money was in the wrong hands.
“I said it was over. I lost my money, “Patricia Verlino told NBC 6.” Someone did this to me and I’m not going to get better. “
Patricia was just starting to move into her new apartment in Davy with her two teenage daughters. Now she has to leave by Friday.
The down payment of $ 63,000 was sent from her bank via wire transfer. Patricia told NBC 6 that she worked for years to save the deposit.
“Many victims,” said Patricia. “Many times without girls, because I quit one job and move on to another. I work on weekends. Besides, I don’t go on vacation with girls. “
Patricia shared 6 documents with NBC showing that she closed the house with the title company earlier this month. But she said that while unpacking her things, her realtor called her.
“She said, ‘Call your bank because the title company is still not receiving the telegram,’ Patricia told us.
The bank records show that the down payment has been transferred. Patricia shared the telegraphic instructions she received with her real estate agent and title company.
“When I forwarded this email to the title company, someone from the title company said, ‘This is not our account,’ and it was like when I said, ‘Oh my God, this is a problem.’
Kevin Thacher, who runs Broward’s Independence Title organization, has nothing to do with the transaction, but is working hard to make sure others are aware of the scam.
“This is the largest real estate scam in the country right now, an electronic scam,” Tacher said, adding, “The saddest thing is to see someone lose their savings.”
Patricia showed us emails that she thought were telegraph instructions.
The email contained the name of the company and information about it, and the sender turned out to be an employee of the company. This is a woman whose name is also indicated in her final documents.
“The email has been hacked,” Teacher said. “These hackers are what they are doing – they monitor the email until they see the business transaction complete. Then they introduce themselves, which is called spoofing – they pretend to be the title agent and ask her to transfer money to them. “
The company later confirmed that the employee’s name was misspelled and she was not working there when the fake email was sent.
In an email, Patricia’s real estate agent told us that he had given her the correct telegraphic instructions at the beginning of the process when she was signing the contract, adding, “When it was close to the closing date, I asked her (Patricia) if she had any instructions by telegraph. , she said yes. “She also said she didn’t know that the employee in the email no longer works for the title company.
Patricia said she contacted law enforcement, including Davy’s Police Department, to see if the detectives could figure out who took the money from her. A spokesman for the department confirmed that the case is currently being investigated.
Its title company, Brokers Title and Escrow, told NBC that their email was not hacked and that this domain is not owned by anyone associated with the company.
They declined to be interviewed on camera, but wrote in an email: “I completely understand that she is terrified of losing her savings, we totally sympathize with her. We are on her side and are ready to fully cooperate with everyone involved in this investigation. “
They further stated that they had not made any claims to their insurance because they had not been identified as responsible for the incident.
“I’m not sleeping,” Patricia told NBC 6, holding back tears.
On Friday, she must leave the house with her daughters.
“I just said that maybe we need to start over, but I’m going to give you (her daughters) everything that happens after that … I’m going to give you a good place again,” Patricia said.
Thacher said there are things you can do to prevent this from happening.
First, he said that you should maintain close contact with the title company and confirm positions with a phone call. It is also important to only respond to messages that require authentication with security codes.
The teacher said that title companies should warn buyers not to send funds electronically without these confirmations. Patricia’s title company told us they always do that.